I got the call while I was in the checkout line, unloading my groceries. It had been four weeks since my mama had her stroke.
“Ellen, it’s Bebe. I just need to let you know that Mom is so tired, so very tired. I don’t think you need to travel up here tonight, but she is just so very tired…”
Tears immediately flooded my eyes and began rolling down my checks. In the next few seconds, I was sobbing while I tried to talk to my sister-in-law.
“Tell her…” I gasped, tears streaming.
“That…” Sobbing, gasping.
“I love her.” Hysterical crying, gasping for air…
She’s fought hard…
That it’s ok…
I know she’s tired.”
The cashier overheard my side of the conversation, and saw tears streaming down my face, snot dripping out of my nose, and drool trickling down the corner of my mouth. She quietly pulled four or five paper towels from her roll and handed them to me. I wiped away all the wetness (except for the tears that would not stop) and tried paying for my groceries. My debit card didn’t work. I was numb and stood there staring at the cashier. That sweet girl grabbed the card from my hand, and swiped it as a credit card. She never said a word. I thanked her with my eyes, and rolled the grocery cart through the doors. The alarm sounded! Weeping, I looked back with a question on my tear splotched face. She waved me through. She never spoke – just saw my heartache, my pain, and silently took care of me. She was the hands and feet of Jesus for me in that moment.
I wailed and screamed and wept on the drive home.
“God, please, I’m not ready to lose my mama! Please, not yet. It hurts! I’m not ready. Please, Lord, not yet!”
The next morning, I called to check on Mama. My brother said “Oh, she’s doing a lot better!” But I heard the sadness in his voice…
I drove the four hours to Jackson. When I walked in to her hospital room, Mama looked scared, tired and drawn. She was subdued. Did she know she had almost died?
Over the next several days, Mama slept a lot. When she was awake, she wanted to hold on to my hand – very unusual for my independent, strong Mama. While I sat there holding her hand, I read scriptures to her. The truth of God’s word comforted me as much as it calmed Mama.
Late one afternoon, I finally had to make the decision to return home. I leaned over Mama, gave her a big hug and kiss, and told her I loved her. I turned, before she could see my tears, and practically ran down the hall. Then I heard it:
“No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!” With that one long word, my mama begged me not to go. Her one word plea ripped the heart right out of my chest.
During the four hour drive home, I tried to sort out all the things rolling around in my mind. I was overwhelmed with, and drowning in my circumstances. I was worried about my mom. I didn’t want her to hurt or be afraid. I didn’t want to lose her. Over the past few weeks I had heard this often from my friends: “God’s grace will get you through!” Really?? How??
I knew the textbook definition of grace: God’s unmerited favor, a gift He gives that is undeserved. But how could that free gift of His get me through THIS? Where was this grace everyone talks about?
Over the next few days, I searched His Word and found this scripture:
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (italics mine): But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I dug further, and found a sermon by John MacArthur with this description: Grace is God’s supernatural provision for our every need, when we need it. (“The Sufficiency of God’s Grace” sermon 6/24/90).
I needed that supernatural power and provision of God. And in my weakness – in my inability to emotionally handle this crisis – He met me. When I came to the end of my own ability, God met me with an abundance of grace. And it was sufficient.
- When I got the phone call in the grocery store, His grace was sufficient.
- When I heard Mama begging me not to go, His grace was sufficient.
- While I was holding my Mama’s hand, expecting her to die, His grace was sufficient.
My head knowledge, my book knowledge, had turned into heart knowledge as I experienced God’s supernatural grace in my life. His perfect power took over when my weakness overwhelmed me.
Are you drowning in your circumstances, or flooded with His grace?
Thank You, Lord God, for Your amazing grace!
Photos by John Chauvin
Beautiful, amazing grace! What a grace it is to write about it in such a beautiful way, too!
Thank you Michael! Hard one to write, to be sure, but in the writing comes healing and a clear view of all the grace lavished on us!
Meredith Bernard says
Ellen…your heart was speaking this morning and I feel it. I have been there. Lost my mom unexpectedly when I was 21 and then I had the opportunity to spend my Granny’s last few days by her side helping take care of her when she decided not to fight dialysis anymore. It wasn’t necessarily easier to say goodbye to my Granny, but it was sweeter to be able to tell her bye. And we grow so much through the loss. It still hurts…always will until we are reunited. And fortunately I do believe my mother and grandmother are with Jesus. I have to also tell you that for the past two Sunday’s my pastor has preached specifically on 2 Cor. 12:9-10! It’s fresh in my head and been so convicting to my heart to realize how much I do not just give over to letting his Grace be truly sufficient. My Pastor asked today, “What in Christ’s sake are YOU doing for Him?” Good question to think about. And always a great truth to remember that if we have nothing but the Grace of God, it will be sufficient for every trial. Hard to swallow sometimes, but always enough. Thanks for sharing your story. I was touched. Blessings, Meredith
Ahh, thank you Meredith. Like you, I know that my mom will be there at the heavenly gates to meet me! That is the hope I have had and still have today! Hard one to write, but the healing comes in the writing, and looking back to see God’s hand positively on the whole process. And His grace still carries me today!
Uncle Wm. says
Thanks, Ellen. Amazing Grace!
Glad you stopped by! Miss you!
Abigail McDonald says
Thank you for sharing your heart here, Ellen. My mom had a stroke a few months ago and like you, I don’t live near her. The drive is about nine hours. It was so difficult not be there when it happened and although I’ve seen her since and she’s doing very well, I still struggle with the distance between us. The verse you quoted is one of my favorite pieces of scripture and it’s so true that God meets us with his grace and power in our times of weakness. Beautiful post!
Abigail, I am so sorry to hear about your Mom’ stroke, but thankful she is doing well! You and I will always struggle with the distance, and the guilt it brings, but this is where God has us! He will use us where He has planted us! Thanks for stopping by!
Doris S. Swift says
What a beautiful story of Grace. You’re an amazing writer Ellen; your emotions jumped off the page. Such a wonderful reminder His Grace is sufficient.
Thank you Doris! Thank you for stopping by! I look forward to getting to know you via Compel!
Sabra Penley says
Thank you, Ellen, for sharing such a painful time in your life and expressing so beautifully the way God works in it through his love and grace.
Sabra, thank you for stopping by. As I write these stories, I am seeing more clearly God’s hand. While I was in the midst of the storm, my vision was blurred! He is such a personal God! Amen!
Oh Ellen, may the Lord continue to pour out His grace on you. Thank God for kind strangers like that cashier at the check-out line. May the Lord bless you your family with His presence and care for your Mom the way only He can.
Thank you Betsy! My sweet Mama passed away two months after her stroke. It is only now that I am able to write about it, but as I look back I see His hands on all, and His perfect timing! Such a treasure to see that now! Praying (really hard, her her) that I will meet you in July!
Tracy Delcambre says
Thanks for sharing your personal and intimate experiences of God’s Grace.
I love when someone is “real”. When you are real and honest about what’s going on the rest of those around you get to witness God’s glory.
I admit I’ve searched and doubted God’s grave would be sufficient to carry me through my a Dad’s on going struggle with Alzhimer’s. Time and time again He proved faithful. I found that my hardest moments were when I tried to solve the issues on my own. Oh how thankful I am that we serve a faithful Father! Thanks again for sharing!
Oh, Tracy! I can’t even begin to imagine the struggle you are having with your Dad’s Alzheimer’s! But God is SO faithful to carry us in our weakness! Sometimes it is a hard lesson learned, to lean into Him! Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Praying for God’s grace to flood you through this season!
“Grace is God’s supernatural provision for our every need, when we need it.” Love this quote and I can think of so many times when His grace has met me right where I was at. Beautiful post on grace.
Tracy, you are so right about being real. If I don’t show my weakness, how will others see Christ’s strength through me?
Kasey Hanson says
This is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing. God speaks through you in a mighty way.
Oh, thank you Kasey! Thanks for stopping by! Yes, His words, to remind me He has been with me through it all! Blessed that He brought me to Compel, and to She Speaks! Can’t wait to meet you there!!
What a beautiful story of God’s amazing grace, Ellen. It took me right back to sitting by my mom’s beside, holding her hand and spending days upon days with her before she passed away. I love how transparent you are in this story. That makes it come alive even more. Thank you for sharing!
OH, thank you Julie! Thank your for stopping by. Those times were precious, weren’t they?
What a beautiful post of God’s amazing and all-sufficient grace meeting you in your place of weakness. I am sorry to hear of your mom’s failing health. My heart hurt for you as I read about your experience. How precious that God allowed you those moments to read scripture to her and how this ministered equally to your heart too. Thank you for sharing your story and these reminders of truth to us.
Thank you for stopping by Amanda! Sadly, my Mom passed away in 2011. I know I will see her again one day in glory! I am just now able to write some of what I call the “stroke ” stories. Healing for me, and also I can oh so clearly see God’s hand in it all now as I look back!
This brought tears to my eyes. So thankful for God’s grace.
Yes, ma’am! His amazing grace….it’s a beautiful thing!
Thanks for stopping by!
Beautiful post. We just buried my mother-in-law on Monday so this was especially a comfort to read. Blessings!
I’m so very sorry to hear about your mother-in-law! Lean in to Him and He will comfort you! Praying for you and your family!