GRACE–What God Can Do With A Gap
*** This is written after considering further my most recent post regarding George Floyd and our friend Rich Baker. Rather than amending that one, I’ll expound here.***
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come (II Cor. 5:17–NIV).
More information is coming out concerning the man, George Floyd. Quite honestly, if everything that’s been said by some pretty reputable sources is true, then he lived a pretty bad life–made some pretty awful decisions. Indeed, George Floyd was a sinner.
Guess what! So am I.
Perhaps he’s not one we should hold up as a martyr, shouldn’t wear the T-shirt bearing his face and name, with his last words quoted in bold font.
Some in the African American community are disappointed, saying, “He’s not my hero. In fact, the way he lived much of his 46 years is a disgrace. We can do better than that.”
And that’s true. We could all do better than “that.”
I could do better than …
You could do better than …
What I think is at risk of being discounted is what God–our good and faithful, forgiving God–can do with a gap.
In Candace Owens’ Youtube commentary regarding why George Floyd’s not her hero, she offers a substantial amount of eye-opening statistics perhaps, and I completely understand (as best this white woman can) her angst. She’s embarrassed and annoyed with the atrocities that are occurring as a result of George Floyd’s death, as if that’s what he would have promoted. As if his death somehow justifies the killing of others, the looting of businesses, the burning of buildings and the graffiti-trashed walls.
It doesn’t. I agree.
And she’s clear. He should never have been killed. We’re not arguing whether or not the officer who pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, until his very least breath was drained, is justified in having done so. We all know he isn’t, and he deserves to be brought to justice, along with those who stood by and watched while wearing a badge to serve and protect.
That isn’t in question. What Candace Owens is angry about is the exulting of George Floyd as a martyr. A hero. And she goes to great lengths to share his rap sheet, which is indeed long.
She mentions that she, too, believes in second chances–after one, two or maybe three offenses. But after eight or nine? “No,” she proclaims–not after all George Floyd did.
But I get it. As a woman, she believes humanity can do better. As an African American woman, that her particular culture can do better. And she won’t raise George Floyd up as some sort of hero.
And I won’t either, but …
As Candace Owens mentions, there was a “gap” in George’s life story that we don’t see. He went to prison in or around 2007 for a crime he’d committed–a heinous crime–in 2005. Released in 2014, it’s clear that, at some point between 2014 until the time of his brutal death, he battled again with addiction. He was high when arrested on May 25th, as autopsies have clearly shown. There’s no one that will argue that.
However, what happened to George Floyd while in prison for those several years? What transformation, if any, occurred that might have further fueled his passion for the people in Houston’s Third Ward, a place he’d spend much of his life? Perhaps he himself was involved in gang-related activity. Perhaps he, too, bought and sold drugs on the streets. Perhaps he, too, was involved in violent crimes that perpetuated a problem. Such is likely the case.
But something happened in the “gap” that made him return, likely the change having occurred while serving time in prison.
Was he perfect when he was released?
But was he perfected–more reflecting the image of his Creator?
We don’t know, but we can be sure that more stories are likely to surface.
What we as believes and followers and disciples of Jesus do know is that…
God can do a lot with a “gap.”
Whether a gap of five years or five months, five days or five minutes, our good and gracious God can do much with little. He fed the multitudes with just a bit of bread and fish (see Matthew 14:13-21). In a moment–a blink of the eye–a desperate woman’s grasping at the hem of his garment brought healing after years of bleeding (Luke 8:43-48). Why, just look at all Jesus did in only His three years of ministry.
In the course of less than 1100 days, Jesus changed the course of history–reached across the gap of all the days that had already been, as well as the days that were and are yet to come. And we’re each experiencing all that Jesus, by His grace, continues to do with only a handful of years.
Is it possible that, while George Floyd isn’t one we should raise up as some sort of hero or worship him as a martyr (After all, isn’t such really idolatry?), we can believe that God did something in the “gap” by offering George forgiveness, healing, and love?
By giving George grace in the gap?
To believe anything less is to discount God’s Word. As mentioned, there is likely to be more of George Floyd’s story surface in the coming days, but something made George passionate about serving youth–young men especially–in Houston’s Third Ward. As Kate Shellnutt wrote in her Christianity Today article on George Floyd on May 28th when she quoted a newly converted man named Nijalon Dunn, one baptized by, at least in part, George Floyd’s efforts–
[George’s] faith was a heart for the Third Ward that was radically changed by the gospel, and his mission was empowering other believers to be able to come in and push that gospel forth … There are things that Floyd did for us that we’ll never know until the other side of eternity ….
This testimony from someone who knew George Floyd personally speaks of something that must have happened in the gap–perhaps while George served time in prison. Perhaps after his release in 2014. And, as Dunn said, some of what George did won’t be known until eternity.
Candace Owens doesn’t know, nor do we.
Only the Lord knows.
As one of my favorite passages from Psalms states–
O Lord, You know!
Though there is much we cannot know–may not know until heaven–of this we can be sure:
God can do much–amazing, miraculous much–in the gap.
Yes, when one experiences GRACE in the gap.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (II Cor. 12:9).
(To watch Candace Owens’ “I do not support George Floyd …” video click on her name.)
Dearest Giver of Grace, Help us to be people of grace. Help us to be people of mercy and love. Help us to be people of kindness. Guide us by Your sweet Spirit–helping us in these tumultuous times to walk with grace each and every step of the way. And when we don’t know, help us cry out with faith–“O Lord, YOU know!”
So be it!