A Grace We Cannot Live Without

 “Lord, I offer this post to you, not a masterpiece, but a broken piece, to honor those, who through their broken gift, offer back a grace they cannot live without.”

In my memory, I am trying real hard to coax a single word out of my voice box.  The patient lady with the long jowls had asked me to repeat it, but someone had soldered my vocal chords.  The little room with no windows was there to help my disability, but it felt instead, suffocating.  After an hour, I trudged back to class, and felt ashamed, as though every eye had seen my struggle.

But to my surprise, Mrs. Stumpf announced to the class that my essay was interesting, and well written.  When I heard that, it awakened me. She had chosen my words to honor.  My first emotion was terror.  Would she ask me to read it?  No, instead she swept over, and dropped the one pager on my desk. Her voice floated like a feather, lighter than air.

“Beautiful.”

To this day, I trace a love for writing to that moment.  Disabled in my speech, I would invent worlds with words.

In seventh grade English class I learned grace often comes on wings of pain.  Here was my magna opus on why I loved soccer. It gave me such joy to write, but I had to recite it before the class.  Everyone I knew and cared about, including my crush, Dawn Daddio, watched and winced, as words collided into a chaotic logjam. On and on I tried, hoping my teacher Mr. Grace, would come to my rescue.  He didn’t, and so I died up there for the entire class period. When the bell rang, I ran from the room.

In high school I wrote a short story about my dog Buff, who had to be ‘put down.’  In my family that meant staring into the barrel of a twelve-gauge shot gun.  In anger I wrote…. not a perfect piece, as a writing instructor told me from Rutgers University, but a ‘daring rough hewn masterpiece.’

I’ll never forget reading it to my senior English class. Mr. Sully knew all about my stutter.  He was just one more in a long line of teachers, coaches, therapists and friends, who silently adjusted their patience whenever I needed to speak. He handed me the story, and whispered, “I know this won’t be easy.” I rose before my peers.  Some had been there that fateful day in seventh grade.  They knew what was coming. Others knew me only as a popular, but shy athlete.  Today, they would go to school. A couple days before, my therapist had thrown up her hands and said, “don’t get a job where you have to speak!” How many more times would I have to watch the embarrassment on the faces of my audience, watch them fidget in their seats, and look away? I grabbed the sheets of paper with both hands, took a deep breath, and tried real hard to speak.

Paul quoted what Jesus told him, in 2 Corinthians 12, when he discussed his own frailty, a thorn he called it. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”  My grace, the disability I asked so many times to go away, has been God’s gift to turn a proud heart in His direction.

To this day, whenever I’m asked to address a crowd, a redemptive wound begins to ache.  It lies hidden, this gift of grace; a gift I would never wish I didn’t have. What I offer Him when I speak is never a masterpiece, but a broken piece, a much sweeter love to His heart.

That heart of His knows suffering. He knows your suffering, too.  He feels the pain you feel, this Son of Man.   Thank Him for the gift you wish you didn’t have, until you know the grace you cannot live without.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. daylerogers says:

    A true masterpiece. An honest and vulnerable look at yourself that gives the rest of us permission to be present in our mess, our own brokenness. It’s incredible how that young man who struggled so valiantly is now the man who loves so well, with God’s abundance of grace. Thanks for sharing your heart, Kev.

  2. kevinjyoung says:

    Thanks Dayle, I appreciate your words.

  3. Mickey says:

    Kevin, you truly are a masterpiece in the Master’s hand! I am reminded of Moses when I think of you. You have been empowered by Master Jesus to proclaim Him to countless others and heaven has been expanded greatly because you chose to rest in His grace and not focus on the thorn. Thank you for being a beautiful example of a Holy Spirit empower follower of Jesus. To God be the glory! Love you friend!

  4. Bill Myers says:

    God’s grace… Always sufficient. His power perfected in weakness. I saw that then, I’m reading about it now. Glory to Jesus.

  5. Jim says:

    “A redemptive wound…” – a very good wording for these hard works of God’s grace upon our lives, especially the ones He never lifts. Yes, Kevin, I would not want to wish them away. Thank you, friend.

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