A Word of Grace – October 11, 2010

Please note that the content and viewpoints of Mr. Hansen are his own and are not necessarily those of the C.S. Lewis Foundation. We have not edited his writing in any substantial way and have permission from him to post his content.


Dear Friends:

David wrote, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,” in his beautiful Psalm 23. This trust in God who is kind and merciful to us wherever we go has been translated by Christians over time to a simple phrase, “traveling mercies.”

Every year for the past 10 years, I have traveled to the beautiful state of Vermont in the first week of October for business. This year Patricia and I traveled to the coast of Maine and through the White Mountains of New Hampshire prior to my meetings in Vermont. This week’s message contains several of my journal entries about traveling mercies experienced during these trips.


The tail of a late-season hurricane dragged through Vermont the first time I drove into the Green Mountains. My plane landed at the Burlington Airport in the late afternoon. I rented a car and started out, but I had to pull over for a conference call from California. It was dark by the time the conversation ended.

I headed in the general direction of Stowe. Just after I turned off of I-89 on to Route 100, the sky lit up over me with lightning and an immediate clap of thunder. Than rain came down like someone had turned on a fire hose and just let it run.

My windshield wipers thrashed hard but were overwhelmed. Slowing down didn’t help much. I could hardly make out the line in the two-lane highway that dips and twists up a mountain valley. My best help came from the continuing lightning as the storm cell seemed to stall overhead.

Then my headlights caught a sign with an arrow for the “Trapp Family Lodge.” That’s where I was staying. I made a hard left off the highway and sloshed onto a pot-holed road heading into a dark, wooded area. This wasn’t exactly a vision of Maria singing, “The hills are alive with the sound of music. . .” on a sunny Austrian hillside. The rain was unabated, but I drove on.

I came on some buildings beside the road. A sign said, “Moscow.” Moscow, Vermont! “What is this about?” I wondered.

Slowing down to a crawl, I saw spotted lamps. . . four electric candles . . . in the windows of a white building. It was a church and the only light in the tiny community of Moscow, in fact, in the whole State of Vermont, as far as I could tell, was emanating from the windows of this little church. It cheered me a great deal as I drove on into the night.

I got lost several times, but finally made it to the Inn, by the back way it turned out.

The next time I passed the little church it was daylight. The sign out front said “Grace Bible Church.”

There are a lot of churches in Vermont dating back to colonial times. I’ve been in every county of the State over the years and most of the churches I’ve seen have names like “First Congregational Church” or “First Methodist. . . ” or “Our Lady of the Snows. . . .”  The words “grace” or “Bible,” while not unheard of, do not commonly appear on the side of Vermont churches.

Many of these churches have no noticeable impact beyond historical interest. Vermont is tied with New Hampshire as the states with the lowest percentage of residents attending church at 24 percent. The median for church attendance in the United States is 42 percent.

On the several occasions that I have passed the Grace Bible Church at night over a period of nine years, the little lamps have always been alight in the windows. This warm witness intrigued me enough to look into the background of this church.

The Vermont Baptist website offers this information: “Organized in 1963 as a Sunday School for children, the church has grown into a small but active group of mission minded adults. With an active outreach to the many tourists in the Stowe resort area, the church often has as many visitors as local people.”

Grace Bible Church has only 16 members,  but the weekly attendance averages a remarkable 45. Somehow, this little congregation manages to pay its expenses, including a pastor’s salary, and sends a generous offering for missions every year. At every mid-week prayer service it is said that this prayer is prayed, ”Lord, let this local church stand true, giving out the Word of Life through Jesus Christ our Lord, until the day the trumpet sounds and He calls His Church home, and we shall be changed and be like Him.”

Patricia accompanied me on the last trip. We drove out from Stowe before dawn in rain and fog to catch our flight home at the Burlington Airport. I took the Moscow Road as a shortcut. I slowed and pointed out Grace Bible Church to Patricia and told her this story.There in the murk was the little church with a candle ablaze in each window.

Moscow is an unincorporated village and driving through it doesn’t look like it has more than 30 residents, if that. But its Grace Bible Church is shining the Gospel light to the dark world through its windows and it has a warm fire burning in the hearts of its members to lead the lost home. It is a continuing blessing and an inspiration.


Patricia and I flew to the east cost for a mixed time of vacation and business. Our flight from New York to Portland, Maine was canceled due to weather. We spent the night near JFK airport.

In the morning, we discovered that Patricia’s driver’s license was missing. She had no other picture ID to satisfy airport security. It was hectic convincing the Jet Blue staff to take her luggage and check us in for the next flight, and harder yet for Patricia to work her way through the security check. She made it with the help of nice TSA officers (Yes, they do exist).

We were in seats near the back of the plane. When we sat down after stowing our carry-on bags, we looked up to see a smiling gentleman with kind blue eyes and a salt and pepper beard standing in the row ahead of us. He said, “It looks like I missed sitting in front of the row of crying infants this time.”

“We promise not to cry,” we laughed. He explained that he had come in from Oakland on “the red-eye” to visit his ailing father in Maine. The conversation continued, but there was a surprise when we exchanged information about occupations and the places we hail from.

It sounds like something out of a comedy routine — On a flight from New York to Portland, ME, a stocky, bearded, Evangelical Christian seminarian turned lawyer turned Antiochian Orthodox priest named Kent who was admitted to the California Bar in 1979 and practiced business law in Santa Cruz, California (between stints in the ministry) met a stocky, bearded, Christ-following business lawyer/writer named Kent, admitted to the California Bar in 1979, who was born near and grew up in Santa Cruz, California. Both of them are personally acquainted with a Christian writer and musician named John Fischer and share a love of God, joy in the resurrection of Christ and a fondness for prayer.

I think our Abba arranged the meeting and was delighted with the result. I know that the two Kents and Patricia are still smiling.

“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous,” Albert Einstein said. Three weary travelers took heart at a big coincidence and a bigger God.


I walk out on the town wharf of Bar Harbor, Maine shortly after dawn. The soft, angled sunlight spreads a misty water-color wash before me comprised of blue bay, gray rocks and deep green islands.

Over 3,000 miles I have traveled to see this, but nothing prepared me for it. Not even the account of an intrepid friend who the year before was so entranced with this view that she stayed out in a howling gale and came down with pneumonia, but with no regrets.

Toward the open sea to the east the fog swirls and retreats revealing a large cruise ship at anchor. Pennants snap in the freshening breeze atop a four-masted schooner, the “Margaret Todd.” It is quiet enough that I can hear the creak of sailboats riding the gentle swells while at anchor in Frenchman’s Bay. My eyes and ears syphon in all of it that my heart can hold.

The greatest reverence may be a glad, thankful, but silent amazement at the artistry of the Creator. Charles Wesley described such an experience as being “lost in wonder, love and praise.” In this moment I am lost at Lat 44.3932°N Long 68.2384°W.

When I return to the room, my heart spills over. Overcome, all I can say to Patricia while fighting surprise tears is, “It’s beautiful. Who knew? Come and see.”


I grasp like Prometheus for fire on the Vermont mountains. One torch of maple, birch, or oak will do, but it is truly difficult to spot the trees for the forest.

These rolling hills ablaze in autumn fire are experienced as a whole. There is no one tree that stands out–only forest, pasture and stream swirling down to the Upper Connecticut River Valley. The beauty is in the sum of the parts.

There is grace in this. It is so easy to worry about this aspect or that particular detail of life that is not what it should be, but God is not a specialist. He created the world including its human inhabitants and pronounced all of it “good” (Gen. 1:31). He nails our sins, “not in part, but the whole” to the cross. He loves the entire world so much that “everyone who believes in him may not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).  Oh, yes! Entire forests are necessary for this God to display his glory.

God creates and redeems in wholeness. Who am I to dismember my soul and pick it apart, to seek perfection, piece by piece, in the minutiae and particles of my life? Today, a sunny,  crisp October day, I’ve examined a lot of red and gold leaves and not one of them was perfect. Each bore the scars of insects or the burns of wind, sun or frost.

“A piece of perfection” may sell pies as a slogan, but it’s an oxymoron. When Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt. 5:48), he wasn’t talking about us presenting without a scar or blemish. In fact, he wasn’t talking about what you and I look like at all.

No, the word “perfect,” as Jesus used it, refers to a state of “completion” or “wholeness” in love given and received without condition which is the Father’s gift and intention for friends and enemies alike. “Perfect” is what he makes us when we choose to live by his power and not by our own flawed devices.

Jesus’ instruction on perfection gives wisdom on how to view the forest–not one imperfect leaf at a time, but the whole forest–reds, greens, yellows, bronzes, oranges, golds and browns ignited together in glory; mountainsides suffused in the glow of grace. Jesus says this is how our Father sees his imperfect children–contrasted but together, with broken edges, and parasite tracks and bites–transformed in the fire of his love to become brilliant hues of warming, illuminating flame. (Mt. 5:43-48)

Grace always comes to us whole and it must be accepted as such. God’s desire for the restoration of Creation is neither partial nor piecemeal.  Settling for anything less is to deny the fullness of God’s power, purpose and presence for our conversion. It is to enter winter without the hope of spring.

Enlarge me then, God, in emptiness to contain your fullness. Now, I only know in part, but I can trust you to know and to be everything for me. In this way I can join your family as a beloved child even though I am your imperfect servant for “because by one sacrifice, [you have] made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14).

“O taste and see that the Lord is good. Happy are those who take refuge in him” (Ps 34:8)

Under the mercy of Christ,



Kent Hansen is a Christian attorney, author and speaker. He practices corporate law and is the managing attorney of the firm of Clayson, Mann, Yaeger & Hansen in Corona, California. Kent also serves as the general counsel of Loma Linda University and Medical Center in Loma Linda, California.

Finding God’s grace revealed in the ordinary experiences of life, spiritual renewal in Christ and prayer are Kent’s passions. He has written two books, Grace at 30,000 Feet and Other Unexpected Places published by Review & Herald in 2002 and Cleansing Fire, Healing Streams: Experiencing God’s Love Through Prayer, published by Pacific Press in spring 2007. Many of his stories and essays about God’s encompassing love have been published in magazines and journals. Kent is often found on the hiking trails of the southern California mountains, following major league baseball, playing the piano or writing his weekly email devotional, “A Word of Grace for Your Monday” that is read by men and women from Alaska to Zimbabwe.

Kent and his beloved Patricia are enjoying their 31st year of marriage. They are the proud parents of Andrew, a college student.

One thought on “A Word of Grace – October 11, 2010

  1. Betty

    This is a wonderful entry about God’s goodness to us.

    “I think our Abba arranged the meeting and was delighted with the result. I know that the two Kents and Patricia are still smiling.

    “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous,” Albert Einstein said. Three weary travelers took heart at a big coincidence and a bigger God.”

    I have experienced these “coincidences” as well. They arrive at just the right time!

    Thank you for writing this blog, Kent. Very encouraging!

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