I had been working hard on the second Handy Helpers book all day–first making some important revisions and then focusing on chapter ten. After dinner, I returned to work on it again, eager to finish the chapter. With chapter ten not quite completed, I was forced to quit as my mind was shutting down. Suddenly, the computer screen went blank. I stared at the white screen for a few seconds before deciding that I must have hit a function key and opened a new file. When I clicked the x to close the file, I was asked, as usual, if I wanted to save the changes. Just as I clicked “yes,” I realized I had not opened a new file, but I had actually deleted everything–thirty thousand words gone in an instant!
My initial shock was eased a little as I remembered that every night at eleven o’clock my writing was automatically backed up on a thumb drive. I hadn’t lost everything–only my work from that day. Still feeling the loss and wondering if I would be able to recall all that I had written that day, I went to bed.
The next day I was able to retrieve my backed up work and easily return to the parts of my manuscript where I made changes. With all the changes completed, I turned my attention to the part of chapter ten I had been working on but my mind went completely blank. Try as I might, I could not remember any of the words I had written. As I struggled to think of something to write, it seemed as if a wall had gone up, blocking my thoughts. Finally, in frustration, I gave up.
Later that night, I was reading my homework for an apologetics class I was taking at church. It was a long reading assignment and not terribly interesting, and I was struggling to stay awake. Determined that I was going to finish, I pushed on through the sleepiness. At last, I completed the assigned reading, but for some unknown reason, I continued to read on. My eyes came to rest on a scripture passage–Ephesians 2:8–“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is a gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.”
It was at that moment I recognized God’s hand on my writing. I had been working on a part of the book where Beth Anne asks her grandmother to tell her what grace is. Apparently, I hadn’t done an adequate job the first time. Now I had a second chance to get it right. Focusing on the scripture I had been given, I wrote the following:
“There’s one part I don’t understand,” Beth Anne said seriously. “Who is Grace?”
“Grace isn’t a person, honey,” Doris explained. “Grace is . . . grace is . . . well, grace is a gift from God.”
“A gift from God? You mean like a present?”
“Yes, kind of like a present, but the very best present you could ever imagine.”
“If I’m really good, do you think God will give me a present?”
“God doesn’t give us his gifts of grace because we’re good. No one could ever be good enough to earn God’s grace.”
“I don’t understand.” Beth Anne shook her head.
“Let me see if I can explain it.” Doris hesitated for a moment, thinking. “You are holding a gift for your mother, right? Why are you giving her a gift?”
“Because it’s Mother’s Day and I love my mother.”
“Exactly.” Doris let out a sigh. “We give each other gifts to show how much we love each other. But no matter how much love we have, we can never equal the love God has for us. That’s why we can never earn his gifts of grace. He gives us those gifts out of love.”
I’ll never know what words I had written originally. Those words are gone forever–erased by the hand of God. But in their place are words he wanted me to write. I’ll be forever grateful for his gift of grace.