Four stories of grace

Story #1: Reading in Genesis about Noah in the ark, verse 7:16 says “Then the Lord shut him in.” I wrote in the margin of my Bible, “We talk a lot about God opening and closing doors. Here is a case when God closed a door as protection … yet, I usually pray for open doors.”

For my entire life as a believer I’ve heard the phrase, “When God closes a door he opens a window.” The idea is that if an opportunity goes away God provides another. It is meant to be a comfort when something we wanted gets closed down. In later years I learned a Quaker phrase, “Proceed as the way opens,” meaning in our pursuit of God’s life we seldom get to see very far in advance but we should simply move forward as opportunities open up. Both of those phrases have proven true for me at different stages of life.

In Noah’s case God closed the door to protect Noah and his family. I wonder how often God has closed a door, slamming it shut, to protect me and my family? How many missed opportunities or regrets that seemed bad at the time but were actually God’s grace?


Story #2: Genesis 14 tells the story when Lot and his family was captured by four warlords. This was after Abram and Lot made their famous split and Lot chose the land that eventually led to this downfall. They were taken along with other people and possessions from Sodom and Gomorrah.

When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken captive he assembled his own men and pursued the warring tribes, chasing them across the countryside until he soundly defeated them. He recovered all the goods and people and brought them back home.

As I read this I wondered if being captured and destined for slavery or death was Lot’s wake-up call from God. I wondered if God allowed this to happen to Lot to show him he would share in the bad fortunes of the people he had chosen to live with, and to give him an opportunity to pack up his stuff and rejoin Abram, which would mean rejoining God? Maybe this was God’s warning to Lot that life was about to get much worse at Sodom and Gomorrah and he should get out now.

But Lot settled back into his old life. After he was rescued he went home to Sodom and there is no mention of his presence at the worship service with Melchizedek to honor God for the victory. Lot was conspicuously absent from the record. In spite of God’s grace and warning, he learned nothing.


Story #3: Genesis 16 describes the plight of Hagar, servant to Abram and Sarai, who was tossed out of the family through no fault of her own. Hagar called the place where God spoke to her “Beer Lahai Roi,” saying, “You are the God who sees me.” What a comfort to know we are seen, to know we are valued, to know our efforts and contribution have made a significant impact and have been noticed by those who matter, to know we are not alone, to know we are not abandoned, to know God sees us. In ancient religions it was not good to be seen or noticed by god. Worship was about appeasing god and keeping him satisfied and keeping him distant. But here is a God who showed himself to Hagar and she was blessed. She knew she was not alone. Even when pushed out of her family, out of her own life, and left alone, she knew the one who mattered saw her and noticed her. Sometimes that’s the grace we need most.


Story #4: Finally, in Genesis 19, angels had to drag Lot and his wife by the hand to save them from destruction in Sodom. Even then, Lot tried to bargain with them as they saved his life. I wonder how many times I have been rescued by God dragging me by the hand, while I complained the entire time?



“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32


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