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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN



Many years ago, Lorraine Hansberry wrote a play entitled Raisin in the Sun. In the play, a family inherits $10,000 from their father's life insurance policy. The mother of the household sees in this legacy the chance to escape the ghetto life of Harlem and move into a little house with flower boxes out in the countryside. The brilliant daughter of the family sees in the money the chance to live out her dream and go to medical school.

But the older brother has a plea that is difficult to ignore. He begs for the money so that he and his "friend" can go into business together. He tells the family that with the money he can make something of himself and make good for the rest of them. He promises that if he can just have the money, he can give back to the family all the blessings that their hard lives have denied them.

Against her better judgement, the mother gives in to the pleas of her son. She has to admit that life's chances have never been good for him and that he deserves the chance that this money might give him.

As you might suspect, the so called "friend' skips town with the money. The desolate son has to return home and break the bad news to the family that their hopes for the future have been stolen and their dreams for a better life are gone. His sister lashes into him with a barrage of ugly epitaphs. She calls him every despicable thing she can imagine. Her contempt for her brother has no limits.

When she takes a breath in the midst of her tirade, the mother interrupts her and says, "I thought I taught you to love your brother."

Beneatha, the daughter answers, "Love him? There's nothing left to love."

And the mother responds: "There's always something left to love. And if you ain't learned that, you ain't learned nothing. Have you cried for that boy today? I don't mean for yourself and your family because we lost all that money. I mean for him: for what he's been through and what it done to him. Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most: when they done good and made things easy for everybody? Well then, you ain't through learning, because that ain't the time at all. It's when he's at his lowest and can't believe in himself 'cause the world done whipped him so. When you starts measuring somebody, measure him right, child, measure him right. Make sure you done taken into account what hills and valleys he done come through before he got to wherever he is."

Isn't this a great definition of grace? It is love that is given when it is not deserved. It is forgiveness given when it is not earned. It is a gift that flows like a refreshing stream to quench the fires of angry words or unkind deeds.

How much more loving and forgiving is the Father's love for us? And how much more is the grace of God for you and me?

For His Cause,
Tim Woodward