by Jill St. John
“We’re closed!” is what I wanted to say. At 5:05PM–one hour and five minutes after closing–the church office doorbell rang just as I slung my computer bag over my shoulder to go home. In my head, I was already on the road. In my head, I was already at home, hoping the chicken was sufficiently thawed for the Savory Spiced Chicken recipe I had in store for our family dinner. Both of my kids and my husband would be home to join me around the table; I could hardly wait to hear about an oral Spanish test and progress on an important project. Snapping me back to the present, the doorbell rang again.
Relinquishing my computer bag with a heavy sigh and not a very Jesus-hearted attitude, I went to the door and saw a young woman new to our church family. This precious single mom had recently made a commitment to Jesus, and we had been helping her with all kinds of messy life situations. (I hail from messy life situations and have been eternally blessed by many Godly women alongside me in my journey, so it is truly an honor to come alongside others.) All of that flashed through my mind, along with the realization that this was going to take time and I was weary. My family and the spiced chicken were calling my name. I also sensed God’s prompting and knew that the Spirit would give me strength. As Jesus’ heart warmed mine, I opened the door and said, “Come on in!”
Instead of the agenda I had in mind for the next hour, I knew from the first word and embrace that this was a much-needed time of sharing, showing, and telling of God’s love to my struggling sister in Christ. It was God’s Word coming to life in that moment: So, we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins. He has showered His kindness on us. (Ephesians 1:6-8a NLT)
In reminding my sister of God’s love and grace for her and of her belonging to Jesus and His family, God showered me with His kindness and grace for me. We need God’s grace straight from His throne. We also need His grace straight from one another through a patient listening ear, gentle words of encouragement, and time sitting together sharing our struggles. This is grace. God’s grace. His grace flowing to us, in us, and through us.
It could go without saying, but I want to go ahead and say it: I need and am so grateful for God’s grace to me. I am so thankful for the grace of others to me. How I need all that grace! How God’s grace is needed in our world, our country, our communities, and our churches. I am humbled when God shows His grace through me. Through the simple interaction that day, God profoundly imparted His kindness and grace. Words of love and grace may not have been on the tip of my tongue and what I wanted to say when the doorbell rang but thank the Lord they are what He wanted to say!
In the words of the late Paul Harvey: And now for the rest of the story…
I am a firm believer in healthy boundaries, and I do not always open the door whatever time of day or night. But I knew that day the Holy Spirit had an appointment for me that was not on my calendar. So instead of Savory Spiced Chicken, which waited another day, our family gathered around the table for a later dinner of “Take 2” (that’s what we call leftovers at our house). The oral Spanish test went better than expected, and the important project was on schedule.
I wish I could report that the young single mom I sat alongside that evening is now more healed and whole-heartedly serving Jesus. That is not the case; however, it is what I pray in faith believing for her. In light of that, I do not wish I had said what I wanted to say: “We’re closed!” I am so grateful for God’s continual invitation to abide in and experience His presence. It is what He says every time: “Come on in!”
Bonus: Savory Spiced Chicken recipe from Jill
3 tsp. ground dried thyme
2 tsp. seasoned salt
2 tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. garlic salt
1 ½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional depending upon your spice preference)
2/3 cup (11 Tbsp.) butter, melted
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
4-6 chicken breasts (bone-in or boneless/skinless)
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine the first 6 (or 7) dry spice ingredients.
Place the chicken breasts onto a sheet pan.
(Line with parchment for easier clean-up.)
Sprinkle the spice combination onto both sides of the chicken.
Whisk lemon juice and mustard into the melted butter.
Pour or brush the butter mixture over the chicken.
Roast the chicken until cooked through.
(bone-in: 60-75 minutes; boneless: 45-60 minutes)
Jill St. John, once a high school English teacher, is an ordained minister in the Assemblies of God. She serves as Co-Pastor alongside her husband, Jason. For the last 23 years, they have served at Evangel Church in Kansas City: 6 years as youth pastors, 17 years as lead pastors. Jill has a passion for Jesus and a zeal for teaching God’s Word – helping others walk in God’s love and purpose. As a 4-time cancer survivor, she knows the goodness of God through the highs and lows of life and ministry. Jill is an authentic, enthusiastic messenger of God’s joy and hope. Teaching, cooking, laughing and hanging out with her husband and two children are the delights of her life!