Evidences of Grace

Edinburgh, second largest city in Scotland and an obvious location for running into old college roommates.

One summer while I was studying at Oxford…

(My friends and I like to throw that phrase around in a snooty tone. It makes us sound like we’re far more academically superior than we really are. In all actuality, I traveled to Oxford one summer with a group of my seminary classmates and professors. We stayed at one of the colleges and had class while we were there. The end.)

One summer while I was studying at Oxford, we traveled by coach to Edinburgh, Scotland for a three-day excursion.

On the first day, our bus got stuck in traffic in the middle of the city. We inched along at a snail’s pace for what seemed like forever, only to end up sitting at a corner for what seemed like another eternity waiting to turn. A crowd was gathered at the same corner waiting to cross the street. We were all deadlocked.

I was chatting with my friends and had my back to the window. A classmate told me she thought someone in the crowd on the street was trying to get my attention. I laughed and turned to look at the sea of pedestrians. After a second or two, it registered with me that the person waving both hands in the air and jumping up and down was one of my college roommates, Kim.

If I hadn’t been so shocked, I would’ve flown off the bus and onto the street or, at the very least, I would’ve grabbed a sheet of paper and written notes to her. Instead we proceeded to have a conversation via lip reading and large gestures. She asked me where I was going, and I told her “the castle,” as I drew one in the air.

Of course, right at that very moment, the traffic parted and we started moving.

In a nearby town, we unloaded the bus at Stirling Castle, land of the legendary William Wallace, and I searched for Kim (and Mel Gibson) in every nook and cranny of the grounds. But since she went to Edinburgh Castle in the middle of the city, I didn’t find her.

I prayed throughout the day that the Lord would allow us to cross paths again. We lost touch after college, and I hadn’t seen Kim in at least five years. It was 2004, and our lives had not yet been revolutionized by social media, so my only option was to go to an Internet café that night and try to find a way to contact her.

I sat down at a computer and composed a crazy email telling our mutual friends what happened. I asked them to send me Kim’s email address if they had it and to tell her where to find me.

I hit send, logged out, and Kim walked up.

She, too, had resorted to email and told our friends to tell me to meet her at that very Internet café at that very moment. She thought I was there because of her email, but I had never received it.

My seminary classmates were so much holier than me. They were convinced our serendipitous encounter was a divine appointment of epic proportions. I’m pretty sure they thought revival was going to break out in the land because of what the Lord had done to bring the two of us together.

It turns out that Kim had been backpacking solo around Europe for a few weeks. She had begun to feel lonely, so while sitting in a park one night, she prayed for someone to hang out with. She really lowballed God and just hoped for some English-speaking people to chat with at her hostel in lieu of the Romanian person who had snatched her bed the night before.

She never in a million years would’ve dreamed she would be meeting an old friend for high tea in Downtown Edinburgh the next day.

No one got saved because of our time together, but to this day, Kim and I both have no doubt that our meeting was a divine encounter. It is one of our favorite stories to tell, mainly because it’s a story only the Lord could’ve written.

A while ago, my friend Todd introduced me to the phrase “evidences of grace,” and as he explained its meaning, I couldn’t help but think of Scotland.

Anything in life that demonstrates God’s work is an evidence of grace.

It’s a reminder that God doesn’t owe us anything, but He gives it anyway. More often it’s used in terms of our sanctification, but it doesn’t have to be limited to that.

Encountering Kim in the midst of a traffic jam in Edinburgh, Scotland will always be a precious evidence of grace in both of our lives. That 24-hour period was one of the sweetest times of fellowship we’ve ever had. We didn’t do anything to deserve it and Kim certainly would’ve been fine without it, but He gave it anyway.

I’m learning to be more intentional about seeing evidences of grace all around me—not only in the spectacular and the unexpected (like Scotland), but also in the quiet and the predictable. I want to be keenly aware and inordinately grateful as the Lord uses them to continue to build upon my trust that He is good and what He does is indeed always good.

What are some evidences of grace you’ve seen in your life lately? Share them in the comments below!

 

*Photo credit: Andrea_44

Jessica spent the first twelve years of her "grown-up life" teaching eighth graders exciting topics such as symbolism and thesis statements. And then, in the summer of 2011, she turned around and wasn't a teacher anymore. She has difficulty explaining what her career is but serving as Editor for SingleRoots is just one of her many roles. A collector of Starbucks city mugs, she still doesn't know what she's going to do with them all (50+ at last count), but she figures that she can't possibly stop collecting them now. She has a crush on the Apostle Paul (with the good Doctor Luke coming in a close second) and thinks the best thing about being single is her freedom to travel with some of the most Godly, fun people on the planet. You can follow her on Twitter.

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  • Jen

    To be more intentional about seeing evidences of grace…I love it! The first evidence of grace that came to my mind while reading this was when I was in college and driving home for a weekend. I stopped to get gas and locked my keys in my car. Fortunately there was a wonderful gentleman there who saw what happened and had a wire hanger and the ability to open my door with the hanger. I had read 1 Peter 4:10 earlier that day and was teminded of the verse and was thankful that he had used the gifts God had given to administer grace to me!

    • http://www.singleroots.com/ Jessica Bufkin

      PS: Remember that time we studied together in Oxford?

      Love you, friend!

  • Rebekah Pickens

    I love this post. So often I forget that God loves not just tolerates us. When we walk in that confidence we begin to see how much He does through evidences of Grace. One of my favorite things is listening to my pastor’s wife tell stories of evidences of Grace. Oh how He loves.

    In my life I label evidence of Grace – God Thing[s]. During my second year of college, the LORD really worked on my attitude about school and one of things I learned was thankfulness in all circumstances. I bring that up because as I learned to be thankful in everything I was able to see more of the “God things” that He did all around me.

    • http://www.singleroots.com/ Jessica Bufkin

      “So often I forget that God loves not just tolerates us.”

      So good, Rebekah. I need to be reminded of that often!

  • Kim

    In my completely unbiased opinion, this is one of your best posts yet! Great job retelling the story Jessica. I had no idea where you were going with this, but I love the evidences of grace angle. I’ve never heard the phrase, but I really like it. I’m so glad we’re back in touch! And thanks again for paying for the cab ride that night. You’re the best!

    • http://www.singleroots.com/ Jessica Bufkin

      Yeah, there were about 100 lessons I learned from that encounter–including the confirmation that I could never stay in a hostel. If you want to take a cab to Louisiana to come see me, I might could start counting some pennies…

  • http://twitter.com/claygirlsings Janice S

    Wonderful post, Jessica! Your personal story moved me to tears. I love when God works like that.

    Yesterday I viewed an evidence of God’s grace in the brilliant white clouds piled up against a deep blue sky. No man can match the beauty of his creation.

    • http://www.singleroots.com/ Jessica Bufkin

      I didn’t mean to make you cry! It really does rank right up there as one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had.

      Creation. It really is something, isn’t it? :)

  • Jon

    I don’t think I ever heard the full version of that story and I’m glad to know it. I like “Evidence of Grace” and I might have to steal it from Todd.

    • http://www.singleroots.com/ Jessica Bufkin

      Seriously? I think you just didn’t listen to me. And feel free to steal it–he did, too. ;)

  • Stacy

    such a great story. i guess i didn’t remember that y’all hadn’t been in contact up until that point. definitely an example of God answering our prayers above what we ask or imagine. i was just talking to a patient today about grace and how our salvation and every step of our walk with God is covered in grace. i often pray with my patients and this was one of the times where i knew God was leading me to pray with her but before i could even ask, she asked me if i would pray with her! i’ve offered to pray with patients more times than i can count over the years and can remember only one instance when the person declined. but to be asked before i even offered was a first and i dare say evidence of the very grace we had been discussing :)

    • http://www.singleroots.com/ Jessica Bufkin

      Yeah, I’m not sure how we lost touch, but it happened back then. You know, before The Twitter and all.

      I love, love, love that she asked you to pray with her! What a precious time for both of you!