A handshake…a bow…a kiss on the cheek…a smile…a nod of the head…words of endearment…a simple hello…All are ways people across the world greet each other. Greetings are an important means of establishing communication and they set the tone for what follows. In a face-to-face conversation the mood is further enhanced by facial expressions and mannerisms. A greeting can create a positive impression or leave someone feeling suspicious or even hurt.
On our flight to Hong Kong in December 2014 I was greeted by a flight attendant in the following manner,
“Good morning, Mrs. Lai, my name is Michel. I am your in-flight service director. If there is anything I can do to assist you please ask me. Have a pleasant flight.”
Coupled with his professional demeanor and pleasant smile I instantly felt welcome and treated as worthy. Did it set my mind at ease about the fifteen-and-a-half hour flight before me? Sure! Did I call on him and other flight attendants for whatever I needed without hesitating or feeling I was imposing on their time? You bet I did! Their smiles and helpfulness went a long way towards making that interminable trip seem a little shorter.
Compare this greeting with one I experienced a few weeks ago when I took my car in to have the winter tires installed. After waiting long past my appointment time, an attendant called my name,
“Kathy, we have a problem. Your new rims don’t fit the tires.”
Oh great! I came all the way in town only to find out the shop manager had ordered the wrong rims! I left in a sour mood muttering and complaining to myself. It had the potential to spoil my entire day and week, seeing as they wouldn’t be ready now for several days, but I’m grateful that God brought my devotional reading from the day before to mind. I began to practice thanksgiving the rest of the ride home and gradually I felt a different spirit enter my soul.
In the New Testament Paul always greeted his listeners with positive words. Grace and peace were the common greeting in all his letters most often followed by words of thanksgiving.
Grace is often very misunderstood. Just stop anyone on the street and ask him or her what comes to mind. You will probably hear comments like,
“Ummm…something you say before a meal?”
Grace is the sweetest word a sinner will ever hear. Once truly understood and wholeheartedly received it overflows one’s soul with complete forgiveness, freedom from bondage to the old nature, unconditional acceptance, and the ability to live the abundant life God has promised.
On December 11, 2014, I headed out to do some Christmas shopping. As I drove down the hill I was shocked to see how swollen the stream had become after the heavy rains of the past several hours. Along with others I stopped to snap a few photos. None of us had seen it flooded so badly in many years. After darkness had set in, I turned into the Bedford Place Mall parking lot looking for a spot. Suddenly my headlights shone on nothing but water ahead! Literally half the parking lot was below water from the flooded Sackville River. A clear debris line showed how much farther the water had come up earlier in the day. Much of Bedford and other communities in the Maritimes had been saturated with floodwaters. It was overwhelming especially to homeowners and businesses that were deluged by the flood. The next morning I went to take more pictures and was really surprised by how quickly the water had receded.
God desires to flood our heart and soul with His endless grace. Unlike receding floodwaters, His grace never dries up. It doesn’t depend on how good and kind we try to be. We may find it hard to forgive ourselves for a wrong or unwise decision but God’s grace does not find fault. He will never hang our past over our head while we wait for His condemnation to fall down. God’s love extends beyond what we will ever imagine.
Let your heart and soul be delighted with Paul’s words as he spoke of the blessings we have in Christ,
“He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:7-8
May grace and peace be yours in abundance throughout this new year!!
Until next time,