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  • Tom Mohr

Rising Leader Series: Week 48 - Grace

Updated: 2 days ago



Rising Leader,

New– Song for November. Listen => The Prisoner (on service, and the power of God’s grace)

What is grace? My wife Pageen describes it as “that which God does within us, without us.” Grace is God’s undeserved favor and His ever-guiding hand. God grants us His grace because of who He is– not who we are. But then it turns to us to respond. Will we take God’s grace for granted? Or respond with gratitude and service?


Perhaps the Bible’s best-known story on the subject of grace is the parable of the Prodigal Son. In it, a father has two sons. The younger son demands that his father give him his inheritance immediately– not, as it should be, after he dies. The father acquiesces. The son immediately takes the money, flees his home, and spends everything in dissipation. Coming to his senses, he slinks back home, hoping his father might let him work with the pigs in return for food.


But when the son crests the hill, the father sees him. He runs to his son, wrapping his arms around him. He orders servants to get new clothes and to prepare a feast. The older son hears the commotion, wondering what’s going on. When he hears that his brother has returned, and that his father has thrown a banquet, the older son becomes angry. “I’ve served you all these years, and you’ve never given me a party,” he says. The father responds, “my son, everything I have is yours. But your brother was dead and has come back to life. He was lost and now is found.”


Many great sermons have been spoken on this parable– what we can learn about God, and how we might see ourselves in the younger son, the older son and even in the father. But I’ve never heard anyone talk about the sequel– what happened next. Yet, isn’t “what happened next” the most important thing? Isn’t this the most important question for us: how will we respond to the exuberant grace of God?


Please allow me to imagine with you the rest of the story.


In the days after the banquet, the younger son couldn’t shake his shame. The cold distance of his brother was bitter consolation because it was what he felt he deserved. But his father’s love overwhelmed. He couldn’t square it with what he had done. Each morning, the father greeted him with a hug. Each morning, the younger son hung his head. Until one day, the father asked that he join him for a walk in the field.


They walked in silence for a time, until the father turned and said, “Why do you reject my gift?” The younger son looked up, his face etched in pain. “Father, what I did– it cannot be forgiven. I will never be worthy of your love.” The father took his shoulders in his hands. “My son, look at me. Do you love me?” “Yes, father, you know I love you with my whole heart.” “Then why will you not let me love you?” “I am not worthy.” “Son: answer me. I will not ask again. Will you please accept the love I have for you?” The son looked into his father’s kind eyes for a long time, and tears began to flow. “Yes, father. If you will love me even as I am, even though I have done what I have done, then I will forgive myself. I receive your love right now, with gratitude. With joy!”


A new routine took hold. After morning prayers with his father and brother, the younger son dedicated himself to the work of the farm. Each day he strove to lighten the others’ burdens. His brother remained cold and distant, but he understood. One day while in the field, he heard his older brother call out. “Come quick! Father has fallen.” The younger son ran across the field, joining his brother at the side of their father, lying on the ground.


The stroke stole his voice and the use of his left side. The younger son took up the task of feeding and caring for his father. Whereas before the stroke his father had led morning prayers, now he did. Whenever his father slept, he completed whatever farmyard chores he could. Months went by, until one morning, while washing his father’s face, he felt a tight grip upon his arm. His father pulled him down with unexpected strength, bringing his own face inches away. His father lifted up his head just enough, and kissed the younger son on the cheek. And then he died.


The father’s entire estate went to the older son, as was his due. The younger son came to his brother and said, “I am sorry that I hurt you, dear brother. You were the one who stayed and served father, keeping the farm while I ran away. This farm is now yours, and it is time for me to make my life elsewhere. Know that I will always love you.” The older brother’s face remained cold and impassive. The younger brother smiled sadly, took what possessions he could carry, and went on his way.


The older brother married and raised five children. One day a traveler came by, bringing news about his brother. He lived in a city two days’ journey away. He worked in service of the poor. He lived on the generosity of strangers. The next day, the older brother left in search.


The younger brother was no longer young. The day was warm and bright as a small crowd gathered around him in the town square. Helpers were there to pick up food packets, prepared for the poor and homebound. He stood by a table, assigning the volunteers their packets and visits.


As he looked up, he saw a figure in the distance, walking down the street in his direction. Somehow the silhouette looked familiar. In a squint, he recognized his older brother. With a cry, he dropped everything. He ran, stumbled, and ran again, arms reaching out. “My brother,” he said. “How I’ve missed you.” They hugged as his older brother wiped the tears from his eyes and whispered, “I love you.”


And that is how the story ends.


Good leader, how will you respond to God’s grace? Will you take up your cross and follow Him wherever He leads? Will you become a leader of goodness, making a difference and giving to others the grace you have received?


Next week, it will be time to stoke the fire.

“And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”-- Acts 20:32

Yours in grace and gratitude,

Tom

(For past letters and songs go to: TomMohr.com. To add people to the mailing list, click here.)


P.S.: Grace is what God does within us, without us. This poem is about that.

O SAP OF LOVE

In grace I live and move and have my being

Connected as a branch is to the vine

O Sap of Love so warm, so strong, so freeing

That joins eternal Yours with finite mine

Though in my soul through wheat still springs the weed

Though in my heart the shadows still remain

Your grace has lifted me beyond my deeds

And planted me upon a higher plain

Today I offer far-from-perfect all

To be grafted to the world as is Your will

And so advance the purpose of my call

That I, like Your others, might bear fruit still

Thank you, blessed vine, for sap of Your grace

Emboldening my reach towards Your embrace



Previous Weeks' Letters:

Week 1: A Time for Leadership


Week 2: Regaining Connectedness


Week 3: With Goodness in Your Heart


Week 4: Pluralism


Week 5: Connected in Time


Week 6: Leadership and the Holy Spirit

Week 7: Pursuing Piety

Week 8: Healing Waters


Week 9: Anointed by the Spirit


Week 10: The Jesus Journey


Week 11: The Love Way


Week 12: Truth Telling


Week 13: The Gift of Grace


Week 14: The Sinner


Week 15: The Saint


Week 16: The Sojourner


Week 17: The Seeker


Week 18: The Servant


Week 19: Doubt


Week 20: Disillusionment


Week 21: Depression


Week 22: Despair


Week 23: Behind the Mask


Week 24: Beyond Myself


Week 25: Behold the Beauty


Week 26: Become the Beauty


Week 27: American Democracy: Overview


Week 28: American Democracy: Individual Liberty; Equal Vote


Week 29: American Democracy: Equal Justice


Week 30: American Democracy: Equal Opportunity


Week 31: Democracy: Truth


Week 32: Diplomacy and Geopolitical Stability


Week 33: Environmental Sustainability


Week 34: Economic Sustainability


Week 35: Social Sustainability


Week 36: Church Encounter


Week 37: Church Discipleship

Week 38: Community: Race

Week 39: Community: Charity

Week 40: Chance

Week 41: Conscience


Week 42: Challenge


Week 43: Call


Week 44: Commitment


Week 45: Gifts


Week 46: Gaps


Week 47 - Growth


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