Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Finding Grace in Cow Tracks and College Kids

By Brenda Black

I guess tender green sprouts and a brand-spanking new bale of hay aren't enough to stop cows from knocking down a gate and partying the night away. The evidence was prolific all around the house from fresh cow patties to deep tracks through a very soft yard. I even found cow hair on the mailbox! In the pre-dawn hours of discovery, it was comforting to know they felt right at home outside my office window where they bedded down contently. I was also extremely glad it was too early in the season to have had the garden up and growing. It would have been history!

The funniest part of my investigative discoveries were the hoof prints that traipsed right beneath our bedroom window. I had to laugh out loud when I imagined a herd of cows tip toeing quietly past, signaling to one another some kind of cow cue that clarified this was a “No Bawling Zone.” Yes, the cows had a heyday as we slept the night away. I'll never know what I missed.

I do know, however, that being able to laugh the next day at the mess was good medicine for my morning. And a chuckle out loud is hands down a great exercise. I guess I was already in a good mood and able to handle the unexpected yard invasion with a little more grace since I'd just come off a weekend of hilarity and energy in a house full of young adults where sleep was in short supply, but laughter came in plenty. Their visit also came with wit and endless ideas for how to have fun and get muddy.

They fished in the rain, tromped through the lots, and repelled down a zip line, sliding to a stop on a muddy creek bank. They played soccer and full contact football on slick, sticky and now-bared spots in the backyard. And then they came inside. Still, they left more tracks on my heart than they did the kitchen floor. They burned off the stress of college classes and small dorm rooms and I was delighted to extend a little grace and let them make themselves at home.

Laughter and grace go a long way to level or clean the muddy tracks that trample our well-laid plans and structured little worlds. And making every effort to see the up side in life and perpetuate joy reaps blessed benefits worth getting a little dirty. Hebrews 12:15a beckons us to “See to it that no one misses the grace of God...” In my country world that includes cows and college kids! The surprising reward is when I give grace, I get grace tenfold returned. Not just grace alone, but joy and peace and good memories to muddy boot!

There are many in this world that just need a soft place to traipse. They need someone to extend a little grace; someone who will get a little muddied with their messes and stresses and welcome them into a home that loves them with the love of Jesus. It may be a neighbor or stranger. It makes no difference. God's grace is sufficient. In the family of God, the tracks of camaraderie run deep and the welcome mat is always marred with precious feet.

“With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 4:33-35)

I heed this lesson from the first century Christians: If home is where the heart is, then those who visit will take a piece of my heart with them when they enter and when they depart. And I'll keep the welcome mat rolled out til the cows or the college kids come home again.

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