There’s something about Santa Fe, New Mexico that makes me happy. Maybe it’s the mixture of cultures and architecture. Maybe it’s all of the artists. Maybe it’s the old churches around the square. Maybe it’s the memories. We spent seven summers in a row there on our way home from vacation in Colorado. It was the halfway point to home, but it was more than that to me. Not just a place to spend the night, but a delightful experience I looked forward to each year. And this one year in particular, I learned something special about the grace of God.
I rose early in the morning before we were to head home, and I recruited one of our daughters to walk to the center of town with me to get some coffee. Only the breakfast restaurants were open as the sun was rising. We found an adorable French bakery on the Plaza. It was everything you’d want—beautiful pastries, provincial decor, and a legit Frenchman who greeted us with a “Bonjour!” when we walked in the door.
“Bonjour!” We responded.
I scanned the menu board. “I’ll have a latte and she’ll have a croissant, please.”
He prepared the latte and the pastry.
Then he gave me my total, and I held out my debit card. He smiled and then pointed at the sign next to the register. It said, “Cash Only.”
“Oh no!” I said.
“I don’t have any cash with me. I am so sorry.”
He smiled bigger, slid the coffee cup toward me and cheerfully chirped in his thick French accent, “It’s OK! You can pay me next time!”
The whole interaction just left me feeling filled up.
I think it’s because that’s what grace looks like. That’s how God deals with us. He’s pushing a latte toward us even though we can’t pay for it.
When I don’t have enough, he covers the gap.
When I come up short, he fills in the empty space.
When I mess up, he hides the offense.
What I couldn’t possible pay for, he already paid in full.
That is grace.
This cheerful man left a beautiful mark on me. And it felt really good.
The next year, when we rolled through Santa Fe, I told my husband, “Turn down this street. I need to hop out!”
I ran inside and saw my French friend. I handed him some money and told him why I owed it to him. He gave me a “Merci!” and a smile.
I bet my return and my gratefulness made him happy, but he wasn’t waiting for it or requiring it.
I didn’t return because I had to.
I returned because his kindness overwhelmed me. And I didn’t forget him. His kindness drew me back.
My French friend was an example to me of how God interacts with us. He’s delighted by our presence. When we don’t get it right, he covers over it and sets us on our way. He gives more than we expect. His posture toward us is lovingkindness.
And our natural response to that lovingkindness is gratefulness and wanting to do what he asks of us. Not because of duty. But because his love compels us to move toward him.
Do you have the eyes to see it?
Do you see his lovingkindness all around you—in the people you meet, in the strangers serving your coffee, in the way goodness comes your way when you’re not expecting it? Open up your eyes and look for it. That’s God’s grace. Let Him show it to you today.
And then you get to slide a coffee cup across the counter to someone else who needs it.