Earthquake-like tremors shook her entire body. She was as stiff as a totem pole and her poker straight arms ended in white-knuckled fists. Three words burst from her mouth like cannon balls. “How dare she.”
I’m sure my eyebrows touched my hairline as I ushered Lilli out the door and onto the sidewalk. My hand kept a friendly but firm grasp on her upper arm as I guided her down the block to my car. The moment she secured the seatbelt her unintelligible sputtering halted. The ominous calm was equally disturbing.
“Let’s go to my house for a cup of tea.” Lilli nodded then rested her head against the window.
At the one stop light in town I reached over and took her hand in mine. “It’s gonna be okay.”
She turned and glared at me before releasing a sarcastic breath. I replaced my hand on the wheel and drove on.
By the second mug of peppermint tea, flavored with casual chitchat, she nudged her chair back and stared into my eyes. “You heard it. Tell me you heard what she said.
“Yes. I heard what she said . . . and how she said it.” The memory made me ache for her.
“And she’s a town employee. All I did was ask for help with the deed and she went for my throat like a rabid dog.” I tipped my head in silent agreement. “I’m a taxpayer. I as much as pay her salary.”
“That’s true. In a sense you do. And she shouldn’t have treated you that way.”
She leaned forward over the table. “Don’t try to tell me she must have had a bad day and I need to be nice and forgive her because—”
“Lily. You know me. I’m not going to tell you that.”
“Good. Because I don’t intend to ever forgive that woman nor go into Town Hall again.”
We stared at each other for a full minute before I dared to speak the obvious. “Then how are you going to finalize the paperwork to sell the house?”
“I have no idea, but I’m not going in there ever again and that’s the end of it.” She slapped the oak table with gusto. Perhaps the flowered cloth was adequate to keep her palm from turning red.
Lilli was a fellow believer whose husband had died six months earlier. Selling the only home her four-year-old daughter knew was a heart-breaking decision. I couldn’t justify the clerk’s behavior, but I also couldn’t solve my friend’s dilemma. It was two agonizing weeks before her call came.
“Hi, Sue. I’m coming to town. Would you let me take you out for tea?”
“Sure. I’d enjoy that. Do you want to swing by or shall I meet you?”
“Let’s meet at Tea Beside the Sea on West Street. I should be done by 2 o’clock. Will that work for you?”
A peek at my wall calendar showed a free afternoon. “Sure. I can do that. I’ll see you then.”
We arrived together and hugged before entering the café. Lilli seemed to exude sunshine. The waitress took our order and disappeared.
I braced myself before asking the dangerous question. “How are you?”
“I’m great. The house goes on the market tomorrow and I’m actually pleased about the move south. We’re going to be happy closer to my parents.”
“Wait. The house is going on the market tomorrow?” My brain whirled. “How did that happen?”
Her smile dazzled me. “I just handed the completed documents to the realtor.”
“And how did you manage that since you were never going to Town Hall again?” My index finger tapped the glass tabletop. “Sounds like a miracle of some kind happened.”
“It was a miracle, Sue.” Her laughter was light and airy. “I went into the darkest place I’ve been in a while. A valley with no way out.” A beach breeze lifted her bangs as she paused. “Then Pastor Stewart’s sermon about grace caught my attention.”
My fingers interlaced. “Do tell. It must have been a doozy.”
“Actually it was a simple reminder about redemption. He focused on two specific verses about how God provides for our needs by His grace. First He grants us the faith we need to believe. Then He blesses us.” She fiddled with the tiny floral napkin. “Holy Spirit convicted me instantaneously about my attitude the other day.”
“Well, I can see the relief all over you.” I put my hand over hers. “Care to tell me more?”
“Yes. That’s why I wanted us to meet. God has been so good to me.” The waitress brought two steamy mugs and a plate of goodies. “Holy Spirit pointed out the abundance of grace extended to me was more than enough to share with others.” She took a sugar cookie and snapped it in half. “Peace washed over that whole confrontation with the clerk. Thankfully the Lord wasn’t asking me to become her best friend . . .” Grins lit up both of our faces.
“Good. ‘Cause I’m not giving up my spot.”
“Heading back to Town Hall wasn’t the easiest task.” She let out a deep sigh. “God carried me. I even smiled and thanked the clerk before I left the office. How’s that for miraculous?”
“Evidence of God’s grace beginning to end, Sis. May His Name be praised forever.”
“Amen to that. Now let’s enjoy these treats while you help me figure out how I’m going to pack up all my stuff.”
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another (John 1:16).
How do you apply the grace you’ve received?
In The Lamb,