Sometimes the greatest grace is what happens “on the way” to something else.
Last night, Corky and I went over to Belvedere Commons, an assisted living community here in Franklin, to conduct a session of our Breathe ministry, which provides support and encouragement for caregivers. As Corky has done for a long time, we went early to connect with some of the residents there. We were able to spend a good bit of time with two of the residents, hearing their stories, learning about their families and sharing mutual encouragement about the issues surrounding everyday life at this stage. It was particularly special to me to meet one resident who was Corky’s first grade Bible teacher at church! She revealed her gifts of encouragement and foresight as she recounted stories of seeing God’s work in Corky’s life even at that young age.
In the middle of this visit, I was delighted to learn that there was another resident there, a dear friend I had not seen in over a year from a congregation I was blessed to serve in the past. Before leaving, I dropped by and we spent nearly an hour reconnecting. As usual, she thanked me for the visit, but as always, I was the one truly blessed. She inspired with stories of her resilience and faith, how God enabled her to persevere through illness, suffering, cultural obstacles and, now, battles with some memory loss (which I could not notice at all). With particular joy, she shared a story of how her persistence and prayers were behind one of the most prominent historical features at our old church. And she warmed my heart with memories of elders and members who had blessed our mutual lives for years.
After taking the necessary selfie to document our time together and kneeling next to her in prayer, something hit me: on this night, what I found myself cherishing most was connecting with the lives of these three godly, resilient people—and they were not even the reason we were there. We came to share and connect with caregivers of the residents like them. But God saw fit to make the greatest blessing on this particular night the people we met on the way.
Life can be like that sometimes, if we slow down enough to see it. Often, the greatest wonder and grace happens on the way to something else. When I think of this lesson our friends taught us again last night, I recall moments in Jesus’ ministry, where he often did some of his most memorable work on the way somewhere else. On the way to a powerful synagogue leader’s house to raise his daughter from the dead, Jesus honors and affirms a woman who is anything but powerful, healing her of years of bleeding and exploitation by the medical community of her day (Mark 5). On the way to Jerusalem to make the sacrifice that brings healing and hope to the entire world, Jesus stops to heal and give dignity to one blind beggar crying out for mercy (Mark 10). On the way to his soul-wrenching prayer and his disciples’ cowardly betrayal in the Garden (John 14:31ff), Jesus shares some of his most memorable words—the vine and the branches, the promise of the Holy Spirit as Comforter, and his prayer for the unity of all believers.
Yes, the best parts of life are often what happens on the way.
Corky and I thank the supporters of Community Outreach Ministries who allow us to be present in the lives of countless people like this: yes, serving them in Jesus’ name, but also experiencing through them God’s living embodiment of grace, all along the way.
Community Outreach Ministries is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization offering help, healing and hope to those in Middle Tennessee who need it most. We are only able to do this through the generous support of our friends who partner with us in this ministry. If you would like to join us in making this work possible, please click here. You can make a difference!