First, I hope everyone will say a little prayer for the people facing Isaac. Rebecca, Greg, Kelley, Allen, and Mary are staying dry so far, but are keeping a watchful eye on the large swaying tree in their front yard.
When I counsel people who are about to go on “sabbatical” or speak to groups about my own “sabbatical,” I am always asked about what type of people did I encounter. My audience is always surprised at my answer:
“Every day I got to know people I would never have met or associated with absent our circumstances. I say ‘get to know’ in a broad sense, at least I learned of where they were from and how they arrived. Sometimes I got to know them much better, and I was able to see beyond their stories and into themselves. On sabbatical, you meet people as they are, far from the masquerade of the “outside” world. They are people with passions, aims, and sins, but all in all, they are homeless in all senses. I learned that they all thawed when I spoke to them in kindness, as many treated me with similar friendship. They are real people – no different. Over time I gained the impression that they were people ‘who are much more under grace than under wrath’, and that it is the outside world which is more under wrath than grace.”
Often you find real piety and the power of grace where people are groounded in reality and are experiencing suffering. Most people when I tell them this find my words hard to believe. Yet every person who I counseled, went on a similar sabbatical, and returned has told me, “I didn’t believe you, but now I know what you meant.” I don’t wish on anyone the torture of the experience, but know that God’s grace is ever present even in the worst of places. Therefore we shouldn’t take it for granted here in the best of all worlds.