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Family of The Month - Part IV

Updated: Mar 26

Story by: Randy Grathen

Learning to Graciously Receive: Our house was destroyed by a tornado in May of 2003. We lost everything but the clothes we were wearing. The outpouring of support from our friends, church family and the community was stunning. We never knew so many people would come together as they did to help us get through the first few weeks after the storm. Offers of money, cars to use, things, places to stay, came from friends and total strangers. Not only that but we learned God is a God-of-Just-in-Time. (Read about that in Chapter IV, "God's Timing is Perfect:" here )

While we were still clearing away the debris where our house once stood, with the help of many volunteers, a car pulled in our driveway. A man got out and walked over to Laurie and said, “I’d like to help, but I’m just now on my way from Jefferson City to Springfield for a trial, (he was a Lawyer, not the defendant) but I’d like to give you some money,” and proceeded to write her a check. Others gave us money too.

We had friends who owned a Blimpie Sub-sandwich shop who fed me for months, at no charge, while my friend Mike and I rebuilt the house.

(you can read that story here

Our friends from church, Pam and Joe put us up for nearly seven months free of charge. They had a 40’ x 60’ pole-barn with a fully furnished one bedroom loft apartment at one end of the building overlooking the lake, affectionately known as the Barn-o-minium. All decked out with knotty pine walls, vaulted ceiling, and it even had a fireplace y’all!

As I said earlier, we had friends and total strangers giving us stuff or offering to give us stuff, but most of the time I refused saying things like, “Thank you, but we’re ok.” Or “We appreciate it, but we can buy the things we need.” Why are most men so quick to refuse charity?” “I can handle it.” “I don’t need help.” “Thanks, but no thanks.” I don’t remember all the excuses I made, but it came to an abrupt halt when God had a very short chat with me. He told me these people were offering things to us from the heart. There was no expectation of reciprocation for their acts of kindness. We had nothing to give! They weren’t keeping score. They gave because they wanted to. That’s all.

By refusing their gifts and offers, I was basically implying that their gifts weren’t acceptable to me. They weren’t good enough. That’s when I remembered our friend Rich, owner of Blimpie's, telling me “You need to learn how to receive.” Putting myself in their shoes, how would I feel if I offered something, and it was rejected by the intended recipient. Worse yet, many people had been told by God to bless us in some way, and I refused?!?

I have since learned to love that word gracious. It means courteous, kind, and pleasant and expressing polite surprise, which every offer was. It takes little effort to be gracious to someone, but it says so much to the person upon whom you act graciously.

Jesus did the same thing. He died on the cross for us. He offered us a priceless gift. A one-of-a-kind-offer of salvation, and He is the ONLY one who can make that offer. We can humbly and graciously accept it, or turn Him down.

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