Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gospel speaks Grace and Grace keeps giving away

“The moment that you think that something you do belongs to you, you lose the way.”

~Rigoberta Menchu (from, ‘I Rigoberta’)

In the college years where global conscience was born I knew that this was timeless truth I was being given again.

Gospel speaks:

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”  Matthew 16:25

There in Latin American Culture and Civilization class taught by an amazing lady, Dr. Linda Parkyn, Gospel washing over and freeing heart was beginning to open  to the many suffering and overcoming ones around the world.  Large chip squarely on shoulder was rapidly diminishing…chiseling away lumps of bitterness of the hard and meager of growing up.

Chip that got stuck in the isolation I felt at eating and wearing generic amidst designer-brand middle class prosperity was becoming something altogether different.  Law said I had it bad.  I deserved the middle class of my schoolmates, but Gospel was saying the not having and going without were gifts given.  The doing of winters without heat and numb hands finishing homework, did not belong to me.  They were gifts and if I would give them away then they would become life.

Law says it belongs to me.  I wear it as righteousness—the suffering, doing without, the pain of this valley of tears.  But Gospel speaks Grace and Grace keeps giving away.

And so Gospel-conscience was born.  In the pages of Rigoberta’s life of three year-old chores…not picking up toys…but the cooking for family.  The working of fields twice the time decent for adults, let alone babes and sweet, sweet face that had suffered the insufferable.  Her words spoke her life…all those years didn’t belong to her.  Her story must be told.  Her people freed. 

Law would say it belonged to her.  Let pain harden and ask for its due revenge.  But Gospel speaks Grace and Grace keeps giving away.

Soon after that I sponsored my first Compassion child.  I would keep learning Spanish to be able to give it away to a people like Rigoberta’s.  Seeking, oh seeking to give it all away. Gospel kept speaking Grace and Grace kept giving away. 

I spent a summer in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Philadelphia (with an organization now called Mission Year) walking streets where blocks away drive by shootings were common.  A place papa wore holes in his pants for nine long weeks praying I’d make it home.  Sorry Papa.  But you’ve been learning the hard way through me.  Law says I belong to you, but Gospel speaks Grace and Grace keeps giving away.

Gospel kept compelling and I kept going.  Blessed to become Associate Staff as a translator for this organization and serve in Mexico and Honduras.  Rigoberta-like faces and one looking up from toes in the sea, (it still runs Spanish in my head) “why are your eyes green and not brown like ours?”  saying without words, “why have you come, blond-haired, green-eyed one?—why do I matter so much to you?”  Law says this is good deeds and they belong to me…jewels in the One Day’s crown.  But Gospel speaks Grace and Grace keeps giving away.

Seven years teaching and the gift of precious time with teenagers soon-to-be hardened and speaking Gospel to their attitudes, indifference, lazy-hearted rich-in-this-world and yet oh so poor.  Law says I earned my paycheck and it belonged to me.  Gospel speaks Grace and Grace keeps giving away.

Rigoberta’s words and their Gospel-lit truth have sounded the gong over my law-bound giving.  The years of giving past and the years now living in “full-time ministry” (one I love and believe in and would love everyone to support in some way) do not belong to me.  Humbled heart knows that giving in far away places was often easier and felt better than facing the pain of home.  That if these sacrificed riches built a righteousness that could somehow wear gospel clothes then I’d be changed.  But Law can bear gospel’s face and cling in belonging to. me. and then lays as lifeless filthy rags.  But Gospel speaks Grace and Grace keeps giving away.

Gospel-living speaks grace-giving most profoundly often in the places of deepest pain…that belonged to us before we knew how to let them go.  The meager days of my youth led me to consciousness of the far away poor but what of the Gospel speaking Grace where the pain was born.  When giving went far and wide and was finally laid aside did running feet come home and find gospel-living grace-giving come to the place where I first belonged. And mama dying gave away Gospel that spoke Grace that keeps giving away.

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

John 1:17


Imperfect Prose[3]



  1. Powerful, thank you. My daughter is from Guatemala, and Menchu's book was a tough read when we were preparing to bring her home. Thank you for giving away.

  2. This speaks such truth. I work for a humanitarian aid agency and we often complain that we don't have a lot of say in where we go - our organisation decides for us. But this was a reminder that that is a gift we can give away, a little teeny tiny frustration that actually ensure we are where the need is, that God has given us something to give away...

  3. mmm...such truth in that. it's so easy to want to cling, to demand what's mine, but really grace keeps asking us to give it away. beautiful and sharp, because i don't always want to give.

  4. i love how you personify Law and Grace, and i LOVE the line, grace keeps giving away... and how you live it, on the streets of philadelphia, and in the sponsoring of a child. simply beautiful, abby. thank you.

  5. "The Gospel speaks Grace, and Grace keeps giving away."

    These words now keep running through my heart. Beautiful.

  6. yes my friend...and bringing that grace home to our most vulnerable spaces...that's when we know that we are beginning to know Grace.

    you have a beautiful heart, do you know that? thank you for the stretching and the pouring out. you have encouraged me today (and many other days.)

    bless you.


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