Confession time. I used to listen to country and western music. A lot.
Oh, and I also had a fascination with the pop rock band Roxette. Their concert was my very first. I felt so grown up. (I was only in grade 8 .... with my friend and without my parents .... can you imagine!???) If you can still sing the words to The Look or Joyride we would probably get along very well :). Oh mercy, ain't that some hair!!!
But back to C&W music for a moment. Alabama used to sing a song called "Angels Among Us." Doesn't that sound nice :)? And the other morning, when we ventured out of our house in between plummeting wind chills and snow storms (we had 3 different storms in 2 days, which doesn't make for great winter driving!) it's the first song that came to mind.
It's hard to tell, because the skies were very cloudy and lighting wasn't great, but someone visited our driveway, and in the freshly fallen snow, had left us a whole choir of angels!
As we tiptoed through the imprints, trying so hard not to disturb them (though you will notice one or two sliced in half because of tire tracks and Jon having to leave for school!!), I thought of all the encouragers God places in our life. In my life. I grew up in a very small community, and it was probably a little easier to hear gossip than grace, criticism rather than compliments. Maybe this wasn't the case. Maybe people were more open and affirming and positive than I remember.
In fact, I can remember when I was one of those critical people. And I recall distinctly when I was held accountable for it. I was in high school, sitting in the gym at lunch time. There were a few of us girls sitting around watching volleyball inter murals I believe. (I played volleyball. I also did not play volleyball very well!!!!) In jest, I was making critical remarks about some people on the court. Some of the girls were laughing. And that encouraged me to keep making remarks. I don't think they were cruel words, but certainly not edifying. Gossip over grace is what generated the laugh. Until one girl spoke up to me. Stood up to my words. "Wow. You are a really negative person, aren't you?" I was stunned. In general I thought I was a pretty POSITIVE person. "Negative" fit in the same category as "angry" or "direct", and as a "christian" I thought I wasn't supposed to be those things. Act that way.
Her words caught me off guard. I'm pretty sure she was just super-annoyed with me and spoke up, and had no idea that, even to this day, her words would continue to teach me.
Like hours, breaths, dollars, moments --- we have a certain amount of words, actions, prayers that we will be able to fit into our day.
Are my words seasoned with grace?
Are my actions encouraging?
Are my prayers edifying?
There are "angels" in my life that God has used to encourage me over and over again. Honest answers (even when they are tough ones). Surprise notes in the mail. Treasured affirmations. Angel wings in my driveway.
He has used people that are regularly part of my life.
And He has used people that have no clue how much they have forever influenced me.
God is so good. :)
And hopefully, I can share this goodness with others as well.
If gossip over grace generated the laugh in the moment, it's
"...grace that has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home." ~ Amazing Grace