• Niki Sparks

Grace for the In-Between Times


"If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless." ~James 1:26

There was an incident on Sunday. In between my morning quiet time and church at 11, I forgot to be nice--and there were witnesses. My day started peacefully with a mug of coffee on my deck, watching birds, reading the Bible and writing in my journal about how thankful I was for the night before at our friends' new lakefront home. Circumstances were good, and so was I.

Fast-forward an hour and I'm on the pool deck for Macy and Trey's swim meet. I could try to explain what's coming with some details of what transpired in that hour, but it would just be excuses. I will simply say that Macy swam the 50-yard breaststroke and got disqualified for not touching the wall on her turn. Mike and I saw her touch and do her best turn of the season, but the official saw it differently and I let my emotions take over my mouth. I followed the official down the length of the pool deck letting her know how wrong she was. I pulled other parents and spectators into my drama and berated the official for "breaking kids' hearts for 15 years," after she yelled at me that she had been an official that long and knew what she saw. I capped the moment off by telling our coaches that "we could be at church right now, but instead we're here at this ridiculous swim meet."

It had only been an hour since I'd set my journal and Bible back on my nightstand, but no one at the pool on Sunday would have guessed it. What happened in my heart in that hour in-between? No one who saw me raging down the pool deck would guess that I started this blog to increase my audience and realize my dream of getting to speak to more Christian women's groups--and none would be booking me to speak at their next conference if they did. I was an embarrassment to myself and my faith in that moment.

The best kind of faith we can live out is one that makes others want what we have. The Jesus that they see in us should lead them to want more of Him. No one saw me at the pool Sunday morning and saw Jesus in me. Not one person wanted more of what I had going on, including me. How could I go from reading my Bible to yelling at a volunteer swim official? I'm working on the answer to that one.

However, I do know what happened in-between yelling at that swim official and worshiping in church two hours later--GRACE. There is no limit to the grace He has for the in-between times.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." ~Ephesians 2:8-9

"Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given." ~John 1:16


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