"'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far.
And grace will lead me home."
I have a tattoo. Sorry Grandma(s). I got it in college... spring break my senior year. I "earned the money" for it via a bet/ dare that took either a lot of guts or a lot of stupidity, or maybe a lot of both. (I'll let curiosity and imagination fill in the rest of the details.) I figured the perfect thing to do with the fifty bucks I "won" by achieving such a task was to do something equally as stupid and gutsy. So I got a tattoo. It didn't take long for me to decide what it was that I wanted to put on my back, just above my left shoulder blade. Nothing big. Nothing cliche' like barbed wire or anything like that... It wasn't supposed to make me look tough... I wanted to simply "forever mark my skin"... with something that had made me who I was, and forever would be the "mark" of my life.
charis Or, more accurately, "xapis". (it's the best my keyboard can do-- don't know the HTML code for the Greek alphabet. Sorry.)
Pronounced "CARE-iss". Or sometimes "kah-REES", depending on who you ask.
It's the Greek word for "grace". Defined: Actually... I can't define it in a sentence. Read Phillip Yancey's "What's So Amazing About Grace?" That's the best definition I can give you. It's the single concept that defines my faith, my world-view, my relationships, my God, my life. Grace is the difference that Jesus brought to the world-- the part of God that had up to then been virtually unknown to the masses-- and unfortunately, the part of God that still much of the world is not exactly "tuned in" to. Grace is forgiveness. Grace is unconditional love. Grace is turning the other cheak, when the world tells you to strike back. Grace is not only seeing, but EMBRACING the "other" point of view. Grace is the blood of a "whole" and sinless man dripping from a brutal cross, shed for the cleansing and redemption of broken and sinful men. It's the only thing that made sense to mark for "forever" on my back. Grace is worship in the middle of the Thunderstorm-- oh the depths of that metaphor, going back to the 8/23 memorial service!!
Grace has brought me through so much. I learned the concept during my adolescence. It was during that time of my life that I came to realize the depths of my own flaws, and the greater depths of God's love for me in spite of me. It's how I learned to deal with those whose life goal it seemed to me was to make my life as miserable as possible. It's in grace that I have accepted and given thanks for my many blessings. My "easy" life, up to a year ago. Grace has indeed brought me "safe thus far". And, even in reflection of my last entry-- the thoughts and feelings of which still burden my heart and mind-- it's grace that will lead me home. His grace is sufficient for my every need. He will provide relief when it's relief that I need. He will provide an opportunity to cry out and mourn, when that's what my soul needs, in order to feel connected to Leslie, and to experience my love that remains for her.
It is grace that will bring hundreds of people together tomorrow-- many of whom Leslie never even met-- to celebrate my wife's life and blessing she was and continues to be to this world and Heaven alike. Grace will be what I experience when I again feel filled up and energized by the kind words, hugs, and mere presence of that community-- Christ's body. Grace will unfold the road before me as I drive back home afterward, seemingly closer still to my best friend, my love, my Leslie.
Can't wait to be there, in the very tangible presence of God's grace tomorrow...