On Offering and Receiving Grace

An interesting thing happened to me one afternoon when I took the Mustang out for a cruise. It was one of the first truly nice spring days. No more snowy roads, no more snow tires and although it wasn’t exactly warm, it was a beautiful day. I was enjoying driving the car and seeing the fields bare brown instead of white and the ditches beginning to green up.

Anyway! I was relaxing, not paying attention to my speed and not in a hurry. However…cresting a hill, I saw the telltale white SUV with its barely noticeable light bar atop the vehicle, coming toward me. I took my foot off the accelerator and glanced down, watching the speedometer slowly moving down from somewhere around 70 mph.

I said words I shouldn’t have as the Sheriff’s deputy flashed his (or maybe her?) lights atop the vehicle and swept past me. Eyes glued to the rearview mirror I looked for brake lights, but the deputy kept going. That was it. Miraculously, I didn’t get a ticket, just a kind of “Hey, take it down a notch” sort of warning. In other words…I was, surprisingly, offered GRACE.

What’s even more surprising to me is the effect this has had on my driving. If I’d gotten a ticket, my attitude would have been defiant. “Fine. You want to ticket me, go ahead. I’ll be driving even faster. You can’t stop me all the time.” Instead, I’ve found myself setting the cruise to make sure I’m not speeding. I’ve been obeying speed limits almost all the time.

I won’t lie…if there’s a stretch of blacktop with no cars, I still kick it down for a few minutes. But my attitude was affected greatly by the grace offered me by an unknown deputy sheriff. The experience got me thinking. What if I offered grace to other people, even when I know they don’t deserve it? If my attitude could be so drastically changed by one simple offering of grace, could others react the same way?

The definition of grace includes kindness, forgiveness, charity, mercy and reprieve. The Bible talks about grace as “God’s unmerited favor.” You get the idea. Always applying life lessons to writing, my thoughts strayed to Rowan, the protagonist, my “hero guy” in the Rowan Milani Chronicles series. Hmmm. What if Rowan had been offered grace by literally anyone at all in the intelligence community after he’d taken actions he probably shouldn’t have.

To illustrate: In one scene Rowan reacts, based on his training, and shoots an FBI agent. This agent had just shot and wounded his colleague Gabriel and then pointed her gun at him. The Supervisory Agent in charge goes by the “letter of the law” and Rowan ends up incarcerated in a Federal Detention Center. That incident sets up a cascading series of events that steer the course of the rest of the book. What if instead the supervising agent had offered Rowan grace? Would Rowan have still become even more hard hearted and defiant? It’s hard to say and you’ll have to read the series to find out what happens to him.

For my part, however, I intend to make a conscious effort to offer grace whenever and as often as I can. Who knows, maybe a chain reaction will ensue, others will be affected and choose to do the same. Time will tell! I’m guessing the concept is going to become part of Book 6 as I continue working on new direction for Rowan and his cohorts. Have fun checking out The Rowan Milani Chronicles!

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