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franklin county times

Showing the true definition of grace

By Staff
Kim West, Franklin County Times
I have a knack for choosing the Wal-Mart lines that seem to take the longest to get through. Even if I select a line with one person, inevitably there's a hold up so I've learned to use that time to flip through the magazines that are ubiquitous at checkout lines and doctor's offices.
While picking up groceries earlier this week, I happened to come across a story about the family of Steven Curtis Chapman, a top-selling Christian singer. Chapman's youngest daughter, Maria, 5, was killed in an accident in May when she ran out behind the family SUV his 17-year-old son was parking in the family's driveway.
"I'm broken and I would give anything to have my baby girl back," said Chapman's wife, Mary Beth, in a recent interview with People magazine. "But that's not going to happen. So I wake up in the morning and make a choice. You can wallow in the deep end or you say, 'God, show me what you want me to be about today and how can I honor you, and in turn honor Maria.'"
As I read the story, I was amazed at how the Chapman and his family have responded to the accident. Instead of being angry, they have given interviews on "Good Morning America" and "Larry King Live" to talk about how they have used this tragedy to deepen their Christian faith and love for each other.
When I hear the word "grace," I think about a person who is the opposite of clumsy. But in a religious context, grace is defined as "the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them."
I think real-life examples are easier to relate to and understand than the ones found in theology, and there are two that immediately came to my mind after reading the Chapman story.
Tony Dungy, who led the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl victory in 2007, and his family also endured a devastating tragedy when their oldest son died of an apparent suicide in 2005. They also chose to rally together and leaned on their faith.
Nearly two years ago, there was a school shooting in Lancaster County, Pa., that claimed the lives of five female students ages 6-13. Incredibly, members from that Amish community attended the funeral of the gunman, who had shot himself, and also comforted his family and urged people to pray for them.
I think the knee-jerk reaction for most people if they're hurt is to be angry and perhaps react with vengeance, which is hopeless in the long run.
If anything like these events happened to someone I loved, I hope I would have at least half of the strength and grace shown by the Chapman and Dungy families and the Amish community.