God’s Grace in a Race

Today John, Jack and I woke up and got our pancaking on early. Out the door by 8 am, we arrived at First Baptist Church School for the 2nd annual Ryan Harner Memorial Family Fun Run.

Marcie Harner was in her 30’s with triplet 5-yr-olds when her high school sweetheart, Ryan, died two years ago. I remember distinctly the day it happened. Maggie Lee was so upset because she loved Marcie.  As the school counselor, Marcie tested the kids when they came to First Baptist Church School in 2006.

In fact, one of Maggie Lee’s best, “blonde moments,” was a result from her entrance exam. The question was, “What comes from the sea and is sprinkled on food?” Instead of the correct answer, “salt,” my honor-roll student replied, “shrimp.” Thankfully, Marcie never held that against her.

In 2009, our community was shocked when a man so young and vibrant with three small kids and a precious wife died suddenly from a bizarre heart issue.  Friends and strangers from church, school and community rushed in to show their encouragement to The Harners then and continued that show of support by the hundreds today, as evidenced by the mass of excited participants.

Having been on the receiving end of human kindness, I have discovered an unexpected truth; despite the hard knocks people are randomly dealt, we consistently want good to have the last say.  Even with all of our faults and foibles, I fervently believe that there is an innate desire in the human soul have for right to win out, for kindness to trump tragedy and for grace to conquer the grave. We are never more like Jesus than when we roll up our sleeves, take the resources at hand and bless those who need a dose of God’s love.

Case in point; my friend, Shaun, brought four family members to run the 5K today. She has never even met Marcie but was touched by her story and thought it would be a great thing to do. As simple an act of kindness as rallying her family to run a 5K is, it is proof that where there is unimaginable grief, there is unbelievable grace . Even though nothing can ever replace those we have lost,  loving acts from those around us somehow weave a net  for us in our weakest hours that support us and beckon us to at least consider going on.

If you have ever sent a sympathy card, baked a condolence casserole or sent flowers to a family suddenly one member shy, you have been Christ’s hands and feet. If you have ever read an email or Caring Bridge Site and been moved to pray, you are The Spirit’s very means of encouragement. If you have ever seen someone in need and been moved to action, you are in that moment God’s Earthly provision for them.

Marcie is brave and beautiful and her children are phenomenal. I was tickled by the throngs of friends, family and strangers alike who joined the community-wide effort to wear shirts bearing Ryan’s name and bless The Harners today. While there is still so much wrong with our world and ourselves, today was a beautiful picture of God’s prevailing grace.

2 thoughts on “God’s Grace in a Race

  1. Amazing!! Loved the pics. It always makes anyone feel so proud of their loved one that has passed away when so many people come to support causes like this. It’s an amazing tribute to that beautiful person that is no longer on earth with us 🙂

  2. Dear Jinny,
    Those are beautiful words, true and accurate. We recently have been the recipents of that kindness and love you spoke about. When God promised that ‘blessed are those who mourn (grieve), for they shall be comforted’, He meant it. We drink in every word that affirms and soothes our sorrow. We feel deeply each caring word and touch. We are overwhelemd with thankfulness when we think of the people God sent to us when we were at our weakest point. Yes, grace triumphs the grave!
    Thank you for opening your wounded heart to us. I read the other day that God’s heart is an open wound of love. Blessing on you and your family. Mary Ann Bryant (Faith’s grandmother)

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