Extending mercy and grace through unsuspecting circumstances
In his profound mercy, the Lord uses unsuspecting circumstances to lead souls to the truth of the gospel. He can even use an eleven-year-old boy and an invitation to attend a piano recital at a church.
My mother was a piano teacher. Naturally, it was expected that I take piano lessons. Though I grumbled and complained to get up early in the morning to practice, I knew there was no way out.
I complained about this to my best friend’s grandmother. Grandma Hawes lived next door to my friend in a small one-bedroom house. A retired school teacher she just listened and smiled, then encouraged me to keep practicing. “Someday,” she said, “you will appreciate it.”
A few months later, my friend and I were playing outside in her front yard. Grandma Hawes came out to tend to her roses and inquired about my piano lessons. I told her that I was preparing for an upcoming spring recital and wasn’t too excited about that. Without giving much thought, I invited her to come and listen.
This year’s spring recital happened to be at a small Lutheran church with a grand piano in its sanctuary. My mother knew the church secretary and received permission to conduct the recital on a Sunday evening.
The big night arrived and I was shocked to see a familiar face in the back row. Always looking prim and proper, Grandma Hawes sat in the back pew with her familiar shock of white hair and glasses. I couldn’t believe she actually accepted my invitation. I was even more shocked that she drove several miles to my recital. It was the first time in over fifty years that she had stepped inside a church.
When I entered high school, I hung out with a new group of friends. I didn’t see my best friend from 5th grade as much, nor Grandma Hawes. Upon graduating from high school, my parents held an open house and invited most of our neighbors and friends.
Towards the end of the evening, a final knock came at the door. I opened the door and there stood Grandma Hawes. She had aged and was now using a walker. My former best friend’s parents had driven her down the street to my house and stood sheepishly behind her. Grandma Hawes had firmly insisted that she come to my open house.
Right away, there was something different about her.
With a wide smile and bright eyes, she had an expression of sheer joy. She reached out with both of her hands and grabbed and my hand. “I want to thank you, David,” Grandma Hawes exclaimed, “for inviting me to your piano recital seven years ago.” Her eyes began to glisten with tears. “After your recital was over, I stood in the foyer of the church and something caught my eye on the bulletin board. It looked intriguing, so I came back to that church the following Sunday. And I haven’t missed a Sunday since. I have you to thank for that, David.”
Raised in a family that only went to church twice a year, I didn’t know nor grasp the significance of what she was telling me. Feeling awkward, I simply smiled, nodded, and returned her warm handshake.
Grandma Hawes came to faith and was baptized at that small Lutheran Church. Within a year after my open house, the Lord called her home to heaven.
It was an invitation from an eleven-year-old boy to attend a piano recital at a church. Harmless, unassuming, and given without much thought. Yet, God used the most innocent of hands from an un-churched boy to extend his grace and mercy.
If God can use an unchurched boy to extend invitations, then he can use any person to engage people in a loving way, share a short message about the hope we have in Christ, and provide an invitation to hear more. It is an extension of our faith.
I look forward to seeing Grandma Hawes in heaven. I can already see her warm eyes of understanding, her love, and pure joy.
[This is an adaptation of a blog post first published in Witness Well on September 13, 2013.]
Fuel for the Week: [Members from Trinity Lutheran in Crete, IL produced an excellent video about their experience proclaiming the gospel.