Grace To You.
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We all have heroes in are lives. I am not talking about sports stars, or famous actors or musicians. No, I am talking about the real-life heroes who taught us the truly important things life. I have several of those in my life. People like my parents and grandparents. There are others as well, but one of the heroes that shaped much of who I am is my Papaw Thomas. Glenn Thomas grew up in Williamsburg, KY. Williamsburg is in Whitley County, just a short distance from the Tennessee and Kentucky border. Glenn grew up during hard times. He was born in 1923, the Great Depression hit just after his sixth birthday. He was a typical boy, but he tended to get into mischief. I used to love to hear him tell of some of the hijinks he pulled when he was younger.
One of my favorite stories was about his days in school. He never was much for school, but he went. In the hills of southeastern Kentucky, it can get pretty cold in the winter time. The room where he went to school was heated with an old wood burning (It may have been coal) stove. This was the depression, so they didn’t waste anything. At the end of the day they would collect the papers they used to do their school work on in a pail to use to start the fire the next day. An idea formed in young Glenn’s head. He had some fire crackers that he had been saving for a special occasion. Now these were before the regulations dictating how powerful firecrackers could be, so these were not the same black cat firecrackers you would buy today. Glenn brought his firecrackers to school with him one day. At the end of the day he crunched his paper up, as normal, only this time he had a few of those firecrackers planted in the middle of each paper wad. The next morning the teacher loaded the stove, and Glenn’s plan was set into motion. Once the flames reached his paper the firecrackers did their magic, and much to Glenn’s horror, they nearly blew the entire stove up. Pieces of chimney, paper, sparks, ash, and soot flew all over the room. The teacher did not have to ask who did it, she immediately turned to Glenn. I don’t know what kind of trouble Glenn got into for that, but I suspect he had a hard time sitting down for a few days. He pulled mischievous stunts like this throughout his childhood.
Now, if you were to tell folks around Williamsburg, that young Glenn Thomas would one day be a pastor, and a church planter, they would have said you were off your rocker. No one saw that out of him, except for one person, his mother. She prayed for her children diligently, and she always knew that the Lord had something planned for them. Years later when my grandfather was training for World War 2, he said he could hear his mother praying for him. See she understood something that, I am afraid many of us don’t. She knew that it didn’t matter what anyone else said, or thought, the only thing that matters is what God said or thought.
I interviewed my grandfather for a history project once and was able to find out a great many things about what shaped him into the man he became. I never asked him who his heroes were, but I suspect his mother was one of them. I believe that my grandfather would not have been the man he was if it had not been for his mother who saw value in him, and wanted God’s best to come to him, and go with him.
Did you know, the apostle Paul began every one of his letters with some form of the phrase “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and Jesus Christ” Every one of them. If you don’t believe me check for yourself. (Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians 1:2, Colossians 1:2, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 1:2, 1 Timothy 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:2, Titus 1:4, Philemon 3) He also concluded every book with some form of “Grace be with you”. Again, if you don’t believe me read for yourself. (Romans 16:20, 1 Corinthians 16:23, 2 Corinthians 13:14, Galatians 6:18, Ephesians 6:24, Philippians 4:23, Colossians 4:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:28, 2 Thessalonians 3:18, 1 Timothy 6:21, 2 Timothy 4:22, Titus 3:15, Philemon 25) The question is why did Paul do this? I think this is no formality here. I believe that Paul was deeply invested in these believers and wanted God’s grace to come to them through these letters, and after they read them, he wanted God’s grace to be just as real to them as they went out into the world and lived. Paul was investing something very special into the readers and hearers of the letter.
This is a powerful message to everyone who claims Christ. We can share God’s grace with those who don’t know His son as their savior. We also can invest in fellow believers through the grace of God. May we pray for each other and seek to bless each other the way Paul did. May we invest in someone that no one else sees the potential in. May we see the world, and our fellow Christians through the lens of God’s amazing grace. I am so thankful that my hero, had a hero of his own who introduced him to the grace of God, and a peace that passes all understanding. I am so thankful, that my hero, had a hero who prayed that God’s grace would go with him. Wait, come to think of it, I have another hero that I never met. Thank you, Great Grandma Thomas.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” Philippians 1:2, 4:23