GENDUSA COLUMN: The Sounds of Grace

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, June 7, 2023

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All was fine on a beautiful South Florida evening until the Scottish bagpiper walked down the aisle of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.  Sitting next to my daughter in a pew filled with family members, I heard the skirling sound of the bagpipe playing Amazing Grace.  

The bagpiper slowly progressed by me in complete Scottish regalia representing his blue and green tartan plaid clan colors.  Following behind him began a two-by-two procession of Westminster High School Seniors in navy caps and gowns walking toward the front of the church to receive their diplomas.

Tears immediately welled in my eyes, yet I was determined not to be sad but joyful for the accomplishments of my granddaughter, who passed by me with a bright smile and twinkling eyes. 

Life.. how funny it can be and how quickly it can pass us by.   Amusing how God winks at us the whole way by providing strange occurrences or serendipity to remind us He is in charge.  And how grateful I am that He is.

 Years ago, I recall occasionally watching a preacher, Dr. James Kennedy, on a nationally televised show called the Coral Ridge Hour.  He broadcast from the pulpit of the most distinctive church in Florida.  Constructed in 1974, the contemporary spire rises 303 feet toward heaven, adorned with abundant stained glass topped with a lighted cross that can be seen for miles.  

Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine sitting in my Georgia home on a Sunday morning in the 1970s that I would sit in the same church, watching a grandchild graduate from their connected school in 2023.  

Amazing Grace was the appropriate song for such an occasion.  God’s grace blessed us eighteen years ago, and it was by God’s grace that a church pew was filled with Avery’s adoring family.  A family that has endured breakups, broken hearts, illness, strife, and loss united now to celebrate victory. 

As I sat in the pew and gazed at the sanctuary’s gold cross, I realized broken families are never really broken unless we choose to throw the pieces away.  We may live different lives from how we originally planned, but if we are wise, children are the glue that keeps the family together.  Forgiveness, unselfishness, and faith are the tools to maintain unity to help our children become adults with twinkling eyes and bright smiles.  

When Avery leaves here and begins her walk into the future, I pray she sees the beauty of each step.  The ups and the downs, the triumphs, the defeats, and finding the strength to weather it all.  

Life is never predictable and often complicated, but I have learned that with the love of God and family, there is nothing one cannot accomplish. 

One day, just before heading to college, I asked my grandmother, “What will I do with my life?”

 “Well, honey, God will lead you where you need to go.  He will show you how to get there, but you must believe He will.  So, don’t worry too much about it.”  Her calm answer provided me with peace. 

As my grandchild heads to college, I could worry about her till the cows come home, but worry does not change anything.  Replacing anxiety, skepticism, and uncertainty with trust in God is more beneficial to one’s mental and physical health.  Worrying over uncontrollable life is worrisome.  None of us can be with Avery every step she takes, but I know God will be no matter what happens. 

At the entrance of the Coral Ridge church, a golden replica of Christ rises above the door with the vibrant royal colors of the stained glass behind His majestic pose.  Underneath is a simple message, “Come unto me.”  When we come to God, we come to grace, understand mercy, join hands, heal, bind, and love.  Brokeness is repaired and replaced with wholeness.

Such redeeming joy needs to be shared, passed on and understood so that we provide substance to those who walk behind us.   We must lead children to the always-opened door of God’s arms; that is how we provide a safer passage to those who step into tomorrow.   For it is by God’s grace, we are enabled to be all that God intends us to be. 

 We provide much for our children, but if we don’t encourage faith and kindness and open a path to God, we send our children toward tomorrow to walk on shaky grounds with dead-end trails.  

Avery’s family led her to the door as a child, and now she leaves prepared to face the world with God by her side.  Amazing Grace… how sweet it is. 

“Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved.  How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.”   John Newton 1725-1807