When a Place Gives the Gift of Grace

The first time we went to the place on the lake was before we were married. Tammy’s family made the trek to the primitive cottages from their Illinois home many times before. In fact, her dad visited the very same place as a boy. Now I was introduced into the family and thus had to be initiated into Eagle River lake life.

Lake House

The family rented a couple of cottages. The walls were paper thin with just enough insulation to keep out the chilly northern evening air. It was a magical place for a getaway. In those days you got there following directions like, “Turn left at the rock…turn right at the tree stump.” The roads were dirt and the little lake was filled with fish. Walk up to the owner’s house, get your fishing license, and you’re ready for the week. My Nikon camera was filled with film and ready to go.

It may have just been that I was in love, but that place and that lake immediately captured my fancy. The scent of pines, the clear water, the sound of the loons…I knew it was a place I would want to visit again and again.

And I have.

Since that visit in the early 1980’s, Tammy and I got married, had two children, and have lived in five different cities. But a return to the place on the lake is a reminder of God’s gift of grace. So we have returned many times. But even with the passage of time it seems that, like God himself, the lake never changes.

Sure, there are now asphalt roads and more commercialism in the little town of Eagle River. The rented cottages have been replaced with a gorgeous, year-round home on the other side of the lake. It was built by Tammy’s mom and dad the year our daughter, Ashlyn, was born. It has a wrap-around deck, a stone fireplace, and a wall of windows overlooking the lake.

But the lake itself has changed very little. There’s still the island in the middle. The bay on the far side still has nesting loons. The stars at night are still brighter than any you will ever see.

That same lake has welcomed members of my side of the family. It’s gentle waves have said hello to close friends. We’ve been there alone with only our family. I have spent time there with just one other friend. We’ve been there with maybe just a few too many of our kids high school friends. We’ve been there in the summer and the winter.

It has now been far too many years since either of our kids have been to the place on the lake. But that’s about to change when we meet Tammy’s mom and dad this summer at that beautiful place. We will soon drive down that driveway with a lake view, this time with Ashlyn’s husband and Ben’s fiancé, who have never seen the place.

They are about to know just what I mean when I say that the lake is a reminder of God’s gift of grace. Though things in life change, the passage of time is lightning fast, and asphalt roads replace the dirt, the lake welcomes our family and draws us together. It’s peace covers us like a warm blanket. It’s a gift that has been giving for generations and won’t stop even after we’re gone.

What place reminds you of the gift of God’s grace?

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6 thoughts on “When a Place Gives the Gift of Grace

  1. The 1950’s on North 53rd Street The summers were filled with neighborhood children who spent days and nights outside. Sherman Playground was the neighborhood hangout. Baseball, swings, games and sandboxes. No one watched television during the summer. We made our fun. It was a neighborhood filled with Jews, Catholics and Lutherans. And we all got along. We walked everywhere or took the bus to Hoyt Pool. It was a time of simple pleasures and fun.

  2. Grace is an interesting word. God’s grace has a sense of power with it. We say graceful to describe an endearing quality often about women who have are kind and calm. Calm is often associated with peaceful. The lake is a peaceful place where many have seen due to the graciousness of Ardith, Max, and Rob.

  3. I suffered a pretty hard knock in February 2010 when my wife announced she was through with our marriage. At that time I was on the baseball staff at the local high school. The head coach and I were great friends and I had gotten to know many of the families of our players as well. The Pisgah HS baseball field had been a place of a certain degree of refuge for me for a couple of years by then; a place of great joy, fun, fellowship, and very much family. But now it took on an even bigger role – it became a place of grace. As we were entering the baseball season, I made a decision; I could hardly put my marital troubles out of my head most of the time, with all of the mental and spiritual wrestling that went along with it. However, for two hours every weekday afternoon, I was in that place, at that field, surrounded by they young men of the team and their families and my fellow coaches…I was surrounded by people who cared about me. I could focus on the task at hand and the people right in front of me and for those couple of hours leave the rest of the world outside that fence. It would turn out to be a very successful season on the field, but more importantly, by the end of that season God had begun to put the pieces of life’s restoration in place. The marriage was gone, but God hadn’t left; and I knew by then that other chapters lay ahead in His love, presence, forgiveness and in His provision. Until that time, over the years in my roles as pastor, teacher, coach, athletic director, I had the opportunity to proclaim and dispense His grace. At that baseball field in those days I found I was the one who was on the receiving end of that grace. I have since moved from that area, but every time I see a picture of the field with the western North Carolina mountains in the background, I am right back there in the care of our gracious God who never let me go even in life’s roughest days. It is a place I will always cherish. To me, that red dirt and green grass on the banks of the Pigeon River will always be holy ground.