God’s Grace allows us to Speak Hope and Truth into the Dark Places

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A year ago I bought a ’93 Chevy conversion van off Craigslist. The deal went down in a somewhat sketchy, yet true-to-form, parking lot meet-up with an exchange of cash for a van.

Since then my sister, a handful of friends, and I have traversed the U.S. playing music on small stages, in living rooms and at the occasional dive bar. We made the quintessential roundtrip from California to New York, a Pacific Northwest loop, and most recently a larger loop to Georgia returning by way of Chicago and Denver.

Each time we spent between a month and six weeks on the road.

All of this sounds much more dazzling and audacious written down, like when you envision Kerouac’s wayward and glorious road trips, or watch a documentary of your favorite band’s grand tour. It’s all of the good stuff and very little of the hard stuff.

Here is what tour really looked like: spending more money fixing the van than the cost of purchase (we’re talking new transmission et al.), eon-long drives through the cornfields of Kansas with no A/C, sleeping in Walmart parking lots, running out of money and subsisting on a diet of pop-tarts and chips, a smelly van, and traveling hundreds of miles in a day to play a show for an empty room.

It was all enough to make me go a little insane and the necessity to dance it out was never more critical to my survival. So, with my romanticized views of tour life shattered, I was brought to a place of needing to seek out why exactly I was on this dusty trail.

I found it was much less about me and entirely about other people. It was much less about touring the country and much more about learning to accept grace.

Learning how to receive when we don’t have the ability to equally reciprocate; that is grace.

I loved getting to play music every night. I loved getting to meet people and share with them a little piece of my soul through the music we performed. It didn’t matter if there were fifty people or two people in the audience.

Each night I was presented with heaps upon heaps of generosity and hospitality. Sometimes we were given a place to sleep and a warm shower, sometimes a meal, sometimes a wad of cash to fuel the gas-guzzling van we drove around.

Other days it was kind words of how our music spoke hope and truth into the dark places. Or it was encouragement to keep fighting to create music. Sometimes it was the gift of taking time to listen to us and to care for us.

All of these moments of generosity were from strangers and friends alike. Somehow the thing we needed most was always provided.

Every gift was undeserved and, despite my need, I was stubborn in accepting such kindness.

In the midst of being given so much I felt the need to profusely thank or contribute something in return. All I really had to offer was my music. It felt deeply insufficient in conveying my gratitude. I fought with my insecurities of not being enough and recognized that I would never feel like I had something ample to give in return. This is what forced me to understand grace a little more.

Learning how to receive when we don’t have the ability to equally reciprocate; that is grace.

That is allowing Jesus to die in our place knowing full well our inability to repay. It is an act not meant to be requited by us because it cannot be matched.

Grace is also the beauty of the Church, the body of Christ. Allowing others to provide permits the Lord to use each uniquely crafted soul for purposes they alone were created to fulfill. What a beautiful tribute to a mighty creator when we facilitate the fulfillment of His design.

While I may have been created to share truth and parts of myself through music, Melissa in Austin may have been created to provide a backyard for our music to be heard. Aaron in Iowa may have been created to have a lucrative career to give enough money for us to travel to the next city. Morgan in Raleigh was gifted with words of encouragement to speak over us after connecting with our music.

Much of my time on the road was learning the difference between understanding that God’s grace is sufficient for me and allowing that grace to sustain me.

We must be willing to let grace into our stubborn hearts and receive it from not only God, but from those He has appointed to provide for us.

Sometimes grace comes in the form of a free shepherd’s pie and a floor to sleep on, which to a hungry and tired body is the greatest gift.

And so, “let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Let us walk forward in tune to both the lack and abundance in ourselves and others, so that we might learn to receive freely and might not diminish the power of grace.

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