Grace – and cost – in unexpected places

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God’s tough to put in a box. And his grace, by definition, is free.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t costly.

I preached at our home church a couple of weeks ago and commented that spiritual awakening rarely finds its genesis where we expect it.

I had no idea how soon I would discover the verity of those words.

So, to begin, a story . . .

A few years ago my friend Cassidy introduced me to a couple of Amish families in northern Indiana. Over the years we became friends; I‘ve spent time in their homes, have enjoyed talking theology, and have really come to appreciate their deep commitment to their tradition. These are really good guys who love their families and their communities and have built very successful lives. Last weekend, I had reason to be back in their area, and we were able to spend a few hours together.

Their lives have taken some pretty dramatic turns in the year or two since I last saw them.

Some months ago, my Amish friend, (we’ll call him) Thomas, began to engage Cassidy in an ongoing conversation about grace—and then he told how he himself had encountered that grace. He described it as scales falling from his eyes. Thomas began to be consumed by the desire to see his community understand the depths of God’s love for them, and about the provision of grace… because family and community mean everything to the Amish.

So he started praying for revival.

And extraordinarily, in a totally unexpected place, Revival broke.

Big “R” Revival.

First a few, then a few hundred—and now thousands—are gathering to pray. Amish, Mennonite, English.

Thousands. Revival that started with an Amish man who discovered what Luther called “the strange new world of grace.”

But it is not cheap grace. Especially for Thomas and his family.

Not everyone in the Amish community has welcomed the moving of God’s hand. A few weeks ago, Thomas was given the judgment of the ban by his community and church.

We English, as the Amish call us, can scarcely understand how devastating a ban is. Friends and family are forbidden to speak to the banned. No other Amish can do business with someone under the ban. You even lose the communal health insurance.

It is not cheap grace.

But it is grace.  I was blessed Saturday to spend time with one of Thomas’ friends who has also discovered what it means to experience God’s grace—and so has ignored the ban.

So perhaps a new community is being born… as God moves in places unexpected.

Have you seen God’s grace in unexpected places?  What has grace cost you?

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