E-Letter 190

Posted by on Jul 9, 2015 in Devotions | 0 comments

With the morning rush hour traffic reaching the tipping point in downtown Atlanta, I merged into the I-75 parade of vehicles snaking their way through the city. It was only 9:15 a.m. and, certain that I was going to be late for my appointment, I began to triage my day and an impossibly long list of to-do’s.  Coasting behind a line of slowing vehicles near the Georgia Tech exit, I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel and bemoaned my bad luck driving karma.  “What I need,” I thought wearily, “is a little break, a smidgen of grace.”

Behind the eightball before noon, my morning continued to unravel, strand by strand, as I fiddled with my car radio straining to hear my favorite program, Writer’s Almanac, which, wouldn’t-you-know, I had managed to miss by five minutes because of bad luck driving karma!  Exasperated, I found myself instead listening to an interview about human trafficking. The highway to Monticello… through Mansfield with its stable of bright orange Kubota tractors, past the Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center and the Harvey dairy farm, under the canopy of pecan trees with its secrets of a bygone era…the highway disappeared, mile after mile, as I listened in fascination to the voice of my son, Alex, explaining his work that led to actions by major credit card companies to remove their advertisements from a website where vulnerable, underage young people are being exploited. I heard him praise the work of a widespread community of caring professionals committed to protecting the thousands of young people forced by circumstances to sell their bodies and souls. I heard him speak boldly about the evil perpetrated on “the least of these” by selfish individuals with access to money and social media. I heard him describe a future where major corporations will use their economic clout to create a climate where all young people are safe. I heard his testimony of a world in which God was, is, and will be deeply involved, using the hands of others to bring about God’s purposes, and I was amazed, grateful, and humbled by someone, a young man who believes with all of his heart in his call to make a difference. And for a moment – maybe longer – I longed for a bit of his courage, a fraction of his determination, a scintilla of his commitment, an iota of his vision.

Perhaps there are many paths to raising a caring young person, but the one I’m most familiar with is the path of Christian discipleship that shapes the life of a church. Alex grew up in St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Tucker, Georgia, a church that describes itself as “A Place of Grace”. While I struggle with the theological notion of a “homed” grace, I am certain that the people who call St. Andrews home were instruments of God’s grace in Alex’s life.  I believe he is the caring person he is today because of the adults who encouraged him in the mission fields of Honduras, Mexico, Jamaica, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, who inspired him in the classroom on Sunday mornings, who wrestled with his questions in youth group meetings, who stayed up for late night conversations in Montreat and Camp Calvin, who enjoyed his enthusiasm during VBS and Youth Sunday rehearsals, who mentored him during his confirmation journey, who invited him into their homes to babysit and do yardwork, and who called and continue to call him friend.

In our family we have an understanding that my adult children will not be the topic of e-letters.  Our times together are recognized as “e-letter free zones.”  I’m guessing that when he reads this, he’ll text me, “Mom, you broke our rule.” And I will respond, “By God’s grace, yes I did because, guess what? A little break, a smidgen of grace was all I needed to remember who I am and whose I am and be grateful!”