Unexpected Grace

I grew up believing the word divorce wasn’t found in the dictionary of acceptable vocabulary, at least not anywhere near the words grace or remarriage. Yet I was divorced in 1985. And I came to understand the deepest, darkest meaning of Malachi 2:16 KJV:

“For the Lord God of Israel says
That He hates divorce,
For it covers one’s garment with violence,”
Says the Lord of hosts.


Even now, 31 years later, I recall the image that came to me at unexpected times, even in my dreams: a portion of fabric, a Scottish plaid … the threads separating … tearingdoing violence to the cloth

The woman at Jesus’s feet received unexpected grace.

Indeed, divorce “covers one’s garment with violence”–a very unique sort.

In 1993 I noticed a man at church … heard his name spoken with respect … watched him ministering to people … interacted with him … thought I heard an angel whisper his name: Al. A foreshadowing of unexpected grace.

Al, my unexpected grace

How could a “righteous man” like Al accept a woman like me–a divorcee–so like the woman at Jesus’ feet in Luke 7: 36-50

Suffice to say, in time I accepted God’s gift of grace based not in my worth but in His. Al and I married in 1994, the best decision I ever made aside from choosing to follow Jesus. 

One of the worst aspects of divorce is that it tends to replicate itself in later generations. (Tweet That!) When my daughter was divorced in 2011, guilt took up residence in my mind and heart, and the image of the cloth returned more often than I could tolerate on my own. I spent a lot of time in prayer.

Michael literally washed our daughter’s feet, an act of unexpected grace.

And then the Lord reached down with a gift of unexpected grace, this time for my daughter and her children … a surprise I should have expected but didn’t. I had prayed for a man of God for her and her children but, as so often is the case, I doubted. Not God’s willingness or ability to do so but my worthiness to be heard, to see and feel this blessing on my child and grandchildren: Michael.

Happy Birthday to our Michael, a man of God who literally washed our daughter’s feet on their wedding day … and who figuratively has washed her feet and her four children’s every hour of every day since. 







Each day is a grace day in our family, but Michael tops the cake. (Tweet That!) 

Olsen’s Portrait Design


4 thoughts on “Unexpected Grace

  1. I know about divorce and the guilt and shame that accompanies it. God’s grace was one of the hardest things for me to accept. I felt I didn’t deserve it. But when I discovered I didn’t have to earn it, that it was free, a new world opened up. Thanks for sharing on this tough topic. So happy for you and your daughter. See? There are some good men in this world. We just have to wait on God’s timing.

    1. Wonderful to read your comments, Clarice. Thank you.

  2. Pauline Osborne

    Your post of unexpected Grace was a good one to read today. I like to read of Grace. I have often been concerned with divorce and married my first husband twice trying to make marriage work….it didn’t.
    thank you for your words today.

    1. Oh, Paula. I understand! Years ago it dawned on me I can never live up to the Sermon on the Mount — or any other teaching of Jesus — but He did, for me. And so I let go of my failures and trusted God’s grace is bigger than my sin. I believe His righteousness covers me completely. Thank you for sharing your heart with me. Linda


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The Oil of Tears

She washed His feet with her tears.

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume [perfumed oil]. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[c] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Luke 7:36-48 (NIV)

My favorite passage of Scripture is Luke 7:36-48. (Tweet That!) 

I’m that woman. I’m that in need of Jesus. I’m that grateful.

Mother’s little oil tin.

When my brothers and I were growing up and something broke or stopped working, we could always count on one response from our mother: “All it needs is a dab of oil.” (Tweet That!)

We’d groan and continue tinkering with whatever was broken, determined not to give credence to her comment. How silly to think a dab of oil would fix anything. 

Looking back I couldn’t count the times Mother was exactly right. There was the bicycle chain. The frozen doorknob. The castoff pair of pliers. And, most memorable of all, the 16mm movie projector that stopped mid-movie. 

Daddy tried to get it going. Brothers added their two bits.

“All it needs is a dab of oil,” Mother insisted.

We all groaned while the men tried their hands at the frozen parts–again.

Meanwhile, Mother found her trusty little can of oil and returned. “Try this.”

Our responses? Tsks. Rolled eyes. Hands raised in surrender. 

Mother dipped the tip of the can into the projector’s innards. Squeezed. And stepped back. “Try it again.”

A collective sigh and groan. But a push of a button later …

The film advanced. The projector projected. Lo and behold … there on the screen … the movie continued.

Mother slipped from the room, muttering, “Told you all you needed was a dab of oil.”

Decades later I often think of that little can of oil. I think of it when I’m reading Luke 7 also. (Tweet That!) 

alabaster-jarThe sinful woman was broken. She couldn’t go on. So she crumbled at Jesus’ feet. She pulled out her version of Mother’s little oil tin–an alabaster jar of perfume and anointed His feet with the costly oil. 

Something tells me the sweetest aroma came from her tears. And even now He feels them on His feet. (Tweet That!)

According to the Savior, her story of gratitude for the burden of sin Jesus lifted would be told for years to come.

And so it is.

Lord Jesus, we bow at Your feet broken by sin but
put back together by Your righteousness.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


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