When I was in grade school I rode the bus to school every day. Every day our house was the first stop to get on the bus and the last stop to get off. Having roughly an hour each morning and each evening on the bus meant that you had more exposure to the bus driver than anyone else on the bus. In my eyes she was a mad old lady who hated kids and should never be driving a bus.
What kind of things did she observe about me? What kind of a kid was I to a nearly retired old bus driver? The answer to this question changed every.
By the time I had reached Jr High, I was already known to be a bit rambunctious. I was familiar with the teachers who ran detention after school and I knew I didn’t mind walking an hour to get to school when I was kicked off the bus because I would not follow directions. I would not really say that I was a bad kid, as much as a product of my environment.
I grew up in a broken home as some would call it. I had always felt like a social outcast because I didn’t have nice things like the other kids at school, and I didn’t have any resemblance of a normal life (as I would have thought it to me normal). Like most kids who feel like society and life have dealt them crappy cards, I took out my frustrations in unhealthy ways. Mostly, by causing trouble.
By the time I was in Jr. High I think my bus driver had seen enough of my crap but she stopped kicking me off the bus and sending letters home to my mother. I had won the battle. Or at least that is the way it seemed. That is when everything changed.
My 8th grade year of school I was at a wrestling meet on a school night. (I loved sports like wrestling and football because I could get my aggression out and not get in trouble or arrested for it). When our team exited the locker rooms and began taking our seats in the bleachers to prepare for the meet, I saw my bus driver in the stands. My first inclination was that naturally she had a nephew or grandson who was on the other team. I did not think much of it.
After the meet she found me and said hello and out of curiosity I asked her if she had a grandson or something out here. She said no. Confused I said, what brought you out to a wrestling meet? She said “I came to watch you wrestle. I wanted to support you.”
I nearly broke into tears. No one ever came to the wrestling meets to support me. Not even my own mother. It was that moment that I felt the guilt and shame and embarrassment of all the years that I purposefully harassed that poor woman. I never acted up for her every again. In fact, I was polite and kind to her from that day forward.
She was able to do something that most people will never take the time to do. She studied me. She realized that I had deeper problems than just being a bratty kid. She took the time to figure out what my deepest need was, and she met me there.
Years later I ran into her as an adult and told her how much she changed my outlook on life that night. We laughed about how unruly I was as a kid and it was great to talk with her as an adult and being able to really appreciate what she did for me.
It is the same grace of God that reaches down to us and meets us where we are every day. The scripture says,
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins. (Colossians 2:13 NIV)
This grace of God is given to use that we can show grace to others. It is this grace that is more powerful than death and Hades. This is why the ultimate act of God’s salvation was on of grace and not retribution. Yes God will judge everyone, but they are only saved by grace.
Judgement brings death, Grace brings life!