Monday, October 17, 2011

More Grace

“But He giveth more grace…”  James 4:6 (KJV)

I remember the first time I met her.  I knew the minute she walked in, she was not your typical, run-of-the-mill customer.  She sat down across the desk from me, and it didn’t take me long to realize I was going to need “more grace”.  The average amount it took to get through a day in my job as a bank Customer Service Representative was just not going to cut it in my present situation.  I took a deep breath and settled in for whatever abuse she decided to inflict. 

One of the aspects of our training taught us that people have one of four predominant personality types.  The driver is the strong, bossy, take-charge type who takes command of any situation and expects everyone else to follow their lead.  The promoter is the energetic, optimistic type who could sell just about anything by their enthusiasm alone.  The socializer is the outgoing, friendly, social-butterfly type who never meets a stranger and would rather be doing just about anything other than working.  And lastly, there is the thinker.  This is the serious, studious type who loves details and never makes a decision on impulse.

I figured out pretty quickly that the lady seated at my desk could have been the driver poster girl.  She continually commanded her poor husband to do this and to do that.  Evidently, he was used to it, by the way he so quickly complied to her every whim.  It occurred to me that he had probably learned long ago that he would never win an argument, so he may as well cooperate. 

We settled in to the transaction, and it turned out that this was not a financially-deprived couple.  She tossed a check onto my desk with an amount that made me take a second look.  I began to make suggestions based on what I thought would be their best investment opportunity.  No matter what recommendation I made, she quickly found something wrong with it.  Nothing pleased her.  She fussed and fumed and complained over pretty much everything I said.  I knew what was on the line – this was a lot of money, and it was my job to not let it walk out the door. 

I was fighting impatience and frustration over the apparent impossibility of pleasing this woman.  I had just about run out of ideas, and she still wasn’t satisfied.  It was then that I felt it – an internal infusion of God’s answer to my silent prayers.  And how welcome and timely it was!  God gave “more grace”.  Oh, how good God is!  I turned to look at this obviously miserable woman, and this time I tried to see her through Jesus’ eyes.  I listened to her, and I gave validation to her complaining.  The wonderful grace of God eased the tension, and she ended up opening the account and leaving happy…well, as close to happy as this sad woman was capable.

That transaction began a long-standing banking relationship, and as time went on, I saw her often.  Each time, she was complaining and very, very hard to deal with.  For some reason, she began to trust me.  She even got to the point where she would call me just to talk.  None of my co-workers could tolerate her belligerence.  I would listen and empathize with her.  It turned out that she was harboring a lot of bitterness.  She had wanted children, but due to circumstances beyond her control, that dream had never become a reality.  She had been hurt and mistreated and abused.  The wounds had turned her into someone who continually did the same hurtful things to others. 

God kept giving “more grace”, and over time, we became friends.  She invited Kevin and me to her home for pumpkin pie and coffee, and she and her husband went out to dinner with us.  There came a day when I was transferred to another branch, and slowly, I began to hear from her less and less.  One day, I heard the news that she had gone into a restaurant, fallen suddenly to the floor, and died instantly. 

Memories flooded my mind of the first time I met her up until I stopped hearing from her.  It was then I realized God’s grace is sufficient in every circumstance, with every person, no matter how difficult they may be.  (II Corinthians 12:9)  I feel like God placed a challenge in front of me with this customer, and He wanted me to go the extra mile to prove the sufficiency of His grace.  It was a challenge I was incapable of rising to on my own, but the grace of God did what I could never do.

Do you know someone who requires “more grace” in order to get along with them?  God’s well of grace never runs dry.  It will enable you to be kind, no matter how you are being treated.  We never know how long we will have to “put up with” a difficult person.  But, no matter how long they are in our life, God’s grace will be there.  When you feel you have reached the end of your endurance, and you are ready to quit, remember God still has “more grace”.  No matter how much grace you’ve used up, He will always have more.  And He always gives it when we need it most.

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