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Moments of Grace

How a beloved devotional writer learned to see the spiritual in the everyday.

John and Tibby Sherrill
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I still remember the feeling of near panic that gripped me when I was asked, more than 30 years ago now, to write “a couple of devotionals” for a new book, a collection to be called Daily Guideposts.

The book would be written, the letter from the editors explained, by a variety of authors. “We’re looking for personal experiences to help the reader grow in faith.”

What could I possibly write about? Maybe other authors would have inspiring events to share, but what did my workaday life have to offer?

Cudgeling my memory, I finally recalled once when an elderly neighbor helped me see that days spent diapering babies and preparing meals were more important than I knew. Maybe her words would help other young mothers.

For weeks no more ideas came. Then I remembered a time of deep hurt when I’d come across an apple tree with a huge lightning scar. The tree, still growing, still producing fruit, had spoken to me about keeping on, wounds and all.

Those experiences were the only two I could think of that could possibly have meaning for anyone else, and I wrote them up. But the following year, the request for devotionals came again. How would I ever come up with new ones?

A letter from a friend got me thinking about how I hadn’t liked her at first, and that the change had come not when she did something nice for me but when I did something nice for her. After that I met a bonsai grower whose work taught me something about relating both to plants and to people.

I began to keep an eye out for these little epiphanies and to jot down notes about them. A gum wrapper on the sidewalk. A withered Christmas wreath. A conversation overheard in a luncheonette. Each one, as I learned to pay attention, had some insight to offer.

Still, when I was asked to provide not three or four but 12 devotionals a year, it seemed impossible. Surely these grace-filled episodes could not keep coming! Nobody’s life is that spiritually filled.

But they do keep coming, as affirmed by Daily Guideposts readers themselves. When I did a series on 12 favorite hymns, an alto in a cathedral choir wrote about the spiritual side of preparing to sing: “I’ve learned that praying the words is as important as getting the notes right.”

When I recounted a year-long experiment of thanking God each day for something I’d never thanked him for before, I was overwhelmed by stories of readers’ own experiences of gratitude. The softness of a dog’s fur, a smile from a tired cashier, “all the spots in my body that don’t hurt.” Our workaday lives are exactly where inspiration is found!

By now I’ve written more than 300 devotionals, and on my desk are two fat folders crammed with events, perceptions, observations of the world around me. “Only twelve?” I ask the editor wistfully as each year’s book is prepared.

I’ve learned what every Daily Guideposts writer and reader knows. There is nothing that happens to us, not a thing we see or hear or touch that God cannot use to show us more of himself. Our lives are a daily journey in his company, and Daily Guideposts is where we meet to share our adventures on the way.

Download your free ebook, Daily Devotionals: 7 Days of Bible Devotions to Strengthen Your Faith.

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