The Secret of Grace

by DanWolgemuth on May 9, 2016

For the love of Christ controls us, (2 Corinthians 5:14a)

Roughly a quarter of a mile from Wheaton Central High School was 103 East Park. This address was home for 16 years of my life, including my high school years.

The close proximity to the school property made it possible for me to eat many of my lunches at home, but seldom did I do that alone. My twin sister, Debbie, and I made certain that a steady stream of guests sat at our kitchen table, or convened in the basement of our split-level home until it was time to trek back to the high school for Algebra or Geometry! (My palms just started to sweat!)

Most of the time when we crossed the threshold into our home, my Mom was there. Sometimes the smell of freshly baked whole wheat bread exploded through the opening, but always there were hugs from Grace.

Grace Wolgemuth welcomed strangers into our home with warmth and joy. I seriously remember some of my wrestling friends coming over for their first lunch and having Grace greet them with the familiarity that I reserve for seasoned relationships. Grace was more than my Mom, and more than mom to my five siblings… she was a surrogate mom to many, even perfect strangers.

Her love was infectious and naïve. It was winsome and authentic. It wasn’t ever awkward or contrived; it was the outward expression of the inward reality. Grace loved well.

Over the years I’ve come to understand the source of this love in a sincere and inspirational way. I always knew that family was a significant priority for Grace, as was my father, Sam. Yet Grace’s sincere and sacrificial love for her family would never be adequate to resource the love she displayed. Only an intimate love of Jesus could do that. Warmth and love pulsed with the message of Christ. She loved her Savior and there wasn’t anything that would constrain the embrace of this love.

In my four years at Wheaton Central, Grace hugged outcasts and skeptics. She hugged addicts and athletes. She welcomed followers of Jesus and self-consumed sinners. She never asked, she just surrounded. Some of these friends smelled like smoke. Some of them reeked of loneliness. Most of them carried the aroma of uncertainty and confusion. None of that mattered to Grace, because none of that matters to Jesus.

And so I’ve learned… a great mother, or a great father don’t put family first. They put family in the context of the much larger narrative of God. It was the compelling love of Christ that characterized my Mom. She simply couldn’t help herself.

She’s been with Jesus now for six years, but she’s still teaching me lessons. Merciful, spontaneous, outrageous lessons on love.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom. I miss you. Thanks for showing me the way to really loving people.

Compelled by Christ.

Grace indeed.

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