There is a beautiful hour, this time of year, just before the sunsetting beauty begins. It’s an hour when the light glows like golden haze and the air wraps itself around your shoulder in a soft and gentle embrace. Birds find their way home. Around the corner, someone finishes mowing, and the sound of the motor as it shuts down seems to fall right off the edge of the sidewalk and roll down the cobblestone street. There is a faraway sound of children laughing, and the man on his screened-in front porch strums his guitar and sings a sweet song in a voice too low to hear unless you happen to be walking by at just the right moment, caught in surprised delight.
There is nothing new under the sun, you know. The news anchors and the status updates would have me believe this brokenness we’re getting to know so very well is unprecedented and unusual, and they almost had me. But I went for a walk, instead.
I didn’t know what I was looking for. Just a walk. That’s what I thought. But there was that golden haze and the air around my shoulders. And, there was grace. There always is.
Grace is all around us. It’s filling in the gaps and pressing back the darkness. Grace moved into the neighborhood, and sometimes I forget what life was like without it.
Nothing in all of creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:13-16, NIV
If you find yourself struggling with the weight of this broken world, and with the headlines and the news feeds and the call to pick a side and hold on tight, might I suggest you take a walk, instead? Find and home in on the things that are true and noble and right and pure; anchor your thoughts in the lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy moments and people and experiences and gifts that God makes available to us because of grace. (Philippians 4:4-9)
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33, NIV
If only God would step in and make things beautiful and easy, just like that hour on an evening in late Spring. But when the hem of grace is lifted and we see the brokenness for what it really is, it reminds us why God doesn’t just snatch us right up to heaven when we decide to follow him. We are salt and light. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. We see the headlines and we read the updates and they become our prayer list. We are clear about what to pray for. We are not divided. We don’t save our prayers only for those who make our lives easy. We pray for our enemies and for those who persecute us, just as we pray for the persecuted. We labor in prayer, like the rest of creation, groaning as if birthing his Kingdom into existence. Our prayers push back the darkness and our service to a broken world points to a different way.
We go for a walk, instead, and there we are reminded of grace. We re-up for our role in the redemption story and we ready our knees and our hearts and our minds for prayer. We open the Scriptures and we keep looking up. We thank God for grace. We go where he leads and, we make ourselves available to a broken world. We open our hands and our homes and our hearts and our wallets because we are the hands and the feet of Jesus, and he has moved into the neighborhood and covered it with grace.
Some questions for you: What would this world be like without the grace of God? When we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done,” what are we really asking for? What role is God inviting you to play, from right where you are?
I enjoyed this beautiful *walk* with you, and your beautiful words washed over me with peace. Yes, grace is the warmth of Jesus in this broken world, and I am so grateful for its presence. One of the aspects of grace that I am learning about is the gentleness and kindness and patience that’s inherent in it. I am learning this by being a part-time caregiver to my widowed mother. Grace is all about passing on the grace that I’ve been given.
What a gift to you and to your mother. The opportunity to love and care for our parents is an amazing experience. Bless you as you serve her well, in all things.
Oh, Dee, this is so rich. Thank you, thank you for helping us remember who we are, and where the ‘side’ is – grace, always grace. Do you know how phenomenally well you write, my dear friend? Just beautiful. And true.
Yes. I needed the reminder, too. It’s easy to forget that none of this surprises God. At least, it’s easy for me to forget.
Thank you so much for your sweet encouragement. And not just here. 🙂
Lynn D. Morrissey
Deidra, this is a heartfelt, hope-filled, and beautifully rendered post. I needed to read it, because I watch far too much news than is healthy for one human soul to contain, and now that I’m “into FB,” I see more negativity at times than is good for me, too. My cousin, whose life was filled with deaths and tragedies too numerous to count (and who did not know the Lord), said when she was feeling despondent, if she could just get outside and walk, it helped her gain beauty, perspective, and what you are calling grace. And what should it do for Christians, when even our life with God is called our walk with Him? Getting out in His creation and changing our perspective in time spent alone with Him this way can change us and grant us courage and grace (a great truth, which I know is the theme of your upcoming retreat). I also wanted to share with you what another author called that golden haze. She called it afterglow. I had the rare privilege of speaking by phone to beloved author Marjorie Holmes, not long before she passed away. I was seeking her permission to publish one of her stories in my second book. She graciously said yes, and she took time to encourage me, a fledgling author. Her story is the last in my book, because I felt it would leave the reader with such hope. I share it with you and your readers here, in hopes that it will do the same for you. In Miss Holmes’s words: “My mother always savored sunsets until the last lingering glow had faded. ‘Just look at that sunset now! Isn’t that the most beautiful sky you’ve ever seen?’ Then after supper when the bright hues had melted into dusk and there was nothing left but a lasting stubborn band of burning rose, she would return to the porch a minute and stand there, arms wrapped in her apron against the chill and murmur: ‘The afterglow means hope.’ . . . What did it mean to her? It spoke of the marvelous ingredient that keeps men going–something that is as vital to man as love–his God-given hope, his belief in tomorrow, his bright expectations that refuse to die. It was surely what the Lord Himself was talking about when He counseled His followers to be of good cheer, not to despair. My mother gave her children the gift of sunsets. But an even greater gift was her gift of the afterglow: the message she read in those dying embers, burning like little fires of faith long after the sunset itself was gone, a lighted bridge across the coming darkness of the stars, ‘The afterglow means hope.'” I will take afterglow and golden haze, both. God knows I need them. And He knows I need to read the work of authors like you show share the golden haze, because it’s a reflection of the Light of the world, who shines forth in sunsets and sunrises, and Who dawns forth in grace and hope every single hour, if we will but have eyes to look up and see. Wow, did I need your post, Deidra! Really! And you know what? I am going to go lace up my shoes and take a walk. I’ve been couped up all day, and the April air and golden sun beckon….
Oh my goodness. I’m reading this with a lump in my throat. Thank you, Lynn. That’s the best I can do right now. Thank you.
Lynn D. Morrissey
Deidra, back from my walk. And you are right. I was haloed in haze w/ eyes to see!. Oh, I’m so glad you love Marjorie. Amazing huh?!
Thank you for taking me on this walk. i needed it today–and the reminder, there is always grace.
It’s all a reminder of our fallen-potential without the grace of our Savior . . . we all deserve so much worse than the worst we see. The cross tells it. And also, there is the strengthening of our faith-muscle: to look up and press on and press into His love.
I love this. “Take a walk” and get a right perspective.
So Much Amen! I simply saw the title and decided it was wisdom and truth and so I backed away and put on my shoes and hit the pavement in search of grace and beauty and just some room to breathe and to slow… and it was just what I needed! Thank God we can’t know what this world would be like without His Grace because we have always had it, swirling around us and chasing us down… Darker, for sure… Hard. Not anything we would wish on anyone, I pray. When I pray “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done” it helps for me to remember that He is a good God… a gracious King… and His will is better than mine… He can be trusted, even when it seems like He can’t. When we pray that, we are asking for Him to rule and reign… at least that is what is meant by that prayer – and what is needed! The role? Well… it’s always unfolding into greater and greater measures, but for me – He made it pretty simple, pretty base, a few years ago and I do well to not venture too far away from it: Be Love. Speak Life. Shine On.
Love you so, friend! SEE you in a couple of days!
Christy Tennant Krispin
Thank you for this reminder. So good.
Trying so hard to be a contributor to the beauty. To share the Glory. To be the hands and skin, bone and marrow. Just need to keep walking and to remember that I do not walk it alone. Thanks again for good God words.
This moved my heart, deep. Thanks, Deidra.
The brokenness is close and heavy right now, pressing in harder as I prepare for this weekend, no doubt. Thank you for these words, an invitation to remember the freshness of Grace, the mercies of the morning, and the enormous ways I’ve seem Kingdom Come recently.
Deidra, you had me today. Beautiful, thoughtful words. A reminder of the One who promises to make all things new. PS The guy strumming his guitar and singing. Tell him to turn it up because that would be my FAVORITE part of the walk!!
Caryn Jenkins Christensen
Spending time in my garden always reminds me of grace. And if were not for grace, we would be completely undone, with no hope of beauty. Your post was simply lovely my friend. <3
My first time visiting your blog, and it’s just so beautiful. Especially this truth that He waiting to meet us in things like the golden light, and neighbourhoods, and spring dressed trees when all the other stuff becomes too much.
Lord bless you for your words, Deidra!
I seem to be the “Second Family” for my daughters’ friends. I love that all of the friends they have wear their brokeness on their sleeves. They don’t pretend to be perfect, they show their flaws and all of their hurt and pain at all times, most times it comes out in anger and when the circle cannot be broken within her family, my family steps in for rest. Rest for the Moms, rest for the girls and rest from the world that they have to survive in.I have second hand mothered 3 young girls that just needed a place to stay for the night, the week or the year over the past 15 years. With Mom’s permission I let them know we are their “other” family. The girls have all come from broken homes and feel displaced a lot of times, my husband and I try to be their anchor in this time of heavy turbulence called life. Most of the Mom’s at first think they are imposing, but I tell them, really, we love your daughter, please let us help you out by giving you some breathing space, so that you both can clean out your heads and get back to work on loving each other. I didn’t ask for this position in life, when my girls’ first started bringing the girls home I thought to myself, can’t you just have ONE normal friend? Just one that isn’t so broken, that doesn’t hate herself so much that she hurts herself too much. It is funny because I am a very strict mother for a lot of things, there is no tolerance of hatred, swearing, phones at the table, etc… yet all of these girls, once they learn the rules, love it. We have supper every night at the table, bedtime is bedtime, curfew is curfew. I do not stretch at these rules, so I am really surprised when they want to come back to my house, especially long term, the “daughter” we have right now has been with us for 2 years now. I love my role, I may not be changing the world, I may not be on protest lines to keep the value of people’s lives alive and well, but through Christ and his Grace, I am changing the lives of these little girls and that is good enough for me. 🙂
I love this. I needed this. I needed the permission and guidance to refocus because it’s totally overwhelming living in this world right now – at least for me. I think one of the scariest things for a recovery perfectionist and former legalistic Christian is to be led by the Spirit. Oh, and to follow the leading of course. I say “of course” because sometimes that’s the part that I’m less willing to do when it comes down to specific, hard things. And I think sometimes the Spirit is leading us to “Just take a walk instead”. To refocus on a Sovereign God Whose heart is full of grace and aches with us when we are overwhelmed. That being said, I believe I have the heart and hands of a healer. Not the gift of physical healing, per se, but to respond to those in need who are still aching their way through it and can’t quite grasp the light. I did get to do that with someone about a week ago and I felt right. It felt right being there doing that. Thank you Deidra.
Indeed. Indeed. <3
Moving back to the states where life moves seemingly faster and walking is does not mean strolling, if you don’t sweat they say it’s a wasted walk. Your post has been my hearts cry since returning to the states. We have been caught up in the 24 hour news availability and I must say it has depressed me. Often I have felt the need to jump on the same walk tract as everyone else but to tell the truth, I cannot keep up with them so they stopped asking me. Life only slows down when we do, our minds will not stop re-living every awful things out there unless we not viewing and listening to the awful things.
I so appreciate this post for as I said you have spoken my heart but with clearer words. Thanks you. Wish we lived close we would go for a stroll.