Spilling Water and God’s Grace in my Family

Written by: Anne Peterson
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It only took a moment.

In her excitement of being out for dinner, Jessica moved her hand and her water glass toppled over, all over the table. That happens sometimes when you’re seven years old.

Like a well-rehearsed play, each of us at the table went into action. I grabbed some napkins. My husband, Mike, righted the glass, and Nathan, who was thirteen, quietly picked up the pieces of ice covering the table.

Thinking of that moment, I have to smile. My family conveyed an important truth that day: the truth that people are important. The truth that we need to extend grace to one another.

The same scenario at my house when I was a child would have been quite different. I would have been scared. Someone would have yelled, “Nice going, clumsy.”

There would have been laughter, but not the warm kind, but the kind that cuts through you like a knife. A lecture would have been started with “How many times have I told you…” I would have been ashamed, not smiling.

But I smile now, pushing out that former memory, thankful history doesn’t have to repeat itself.

I will not bring up my children the way I was brought up.

They will not flinch when my hand is raised.

Mistakes are a part of life.

So what changed in my life, to bring on this change in how I would raise my children?

I met grace. It was 1971 and I was invited to a home Bible study. I immediately felt drawn to this 30-something housewife with the long dangling earrings. She perched herself on a stool and led us in God’s word. There were long tables stacked with paper and pens, and Bibles for those who were new to this.

In one night I saw who this woman spoke about. She introduced me to her Jesus. She spoke of him as if he were her best friend. The next night I came back to the Bible study. I had to know more. That night I saw that when Jesus died on the cross it wasn’t only for the world he loved so much. It was for me.

Joyfully, I accepted his gift of salvation. Lois showed us what mercy and grace looked like. We deserved to die because we were sinners. But Romans 5:8 says,

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God didn’t just tell us, he showed us what love is, through the sacrifice of Jesus and our redemption through him. Mercy meant I did not get what I deserved. Grace meant I received heaven instead.

What God started on that September night in 1971, he continues even today. God shows me mercy and grace, and I get to see his grace play out in my family to this day.

Our family continued our meal that night in the restaurant, not flustered by the spilt water or angry with each other. It was a good meal. Not because of what we ate, but because we knew God’s grace.

Many times I have looked at the family God gave me and been thankful. Thankful that I grew up in one kind of house but by God’s grace created a different one.

I’m so grateful I get to experience and share God’s grace. Grace that is powerful, and extended on a daily basis. Like when someone spills a glass of water.

Check out an earlier post by Anne here.