I look back on that day, and I think there’s only one thing she could’ve thought.


There I was, fingers buried up to the knuckles in my little bedroom’s fairly industrial carpet, tears forming a river formidable enough to make Justin Timberlake proud.

Meredith was standing in the hall, and her eyes were huge.

She was unpacking her suitcases. She was new to England.

I wondered if she was taking in the scene and thinking in horror that she might be looking into the mirror at the ghost of Christmas future.




Expats sometimes call them “ticket days” – the days that if you had a one-way ticket, you’d probably get on the plane and fly back.

This was my first ticket day.

It seemed everything had imploded in a split second. I’d prayed over several things, then botched them all in ways I couldn’t have even dreamed up. I’d hurt people I love when I meant to do the opposite. All in one day. It felt like I’d been dead-legged so suddenly I didn’t feel it until my face hit the industrial carpet.

It was awful.

Later that week, I was on the schedule to give an encouraging talk at my office, and I don’t remember saying much that fit the bill of encouraging. I think it centered around clinging to God in the midst of pitch blackness, when everything goes up in flames.



Admittedly I have a deep well of emotions, but this plumbed it and kept digging. But in the middle of it, something unexpected happened.

I started learning how to learn.

A few days later, after I’d moved from the carpet to the couch, I found myself in 2 Corinthians 4.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our mortal bodies.”

My weak, frail body – exploding with tears and messing things up even with my best efforts – is nothing but a jar of clay.

The stuff that matters is the treasure that’s on the inside: “The light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

I may feel hard-pressed on every side, but I’m not crushed, all because of His strength, strength that is super visible in my clay-like weakness.

That passage dead-legged me, and I remember yelling down the spiral staircase at Meredith how much I LOVED THIS CHAPTER.

I read it. And read it. And read it. Until finally one day I felt God prodding me to do something I hadn’t done since my sixth grade Christmas program.

Memorize it.

Oh, no.

It was hard. It took time. It took turning off the radio to say it to myself while I drove. It took getting up early to have some quiet hours before work.

But eventually it got in there.

And just in time.

When my friend Clare died last February, my face hit the carpet again, and this time I wasn’t sure how to get up with the weight of pain that sat in my gut and radiated through my pores. But something else came spilling out, too.

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison as we look not to the things that are seen, but the things that are unseen.”

I couldn’t read. I couldn’t pray. Everything hurt so badly I couldn’t see.

I wanted a ticket out of this one, too.

“For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Scripture came pouring out. Praise God. He knew my need. He supplied His Word. It got me through some hard, hard days. Sleepless nights. Tear-filled showers. Days doubled over my desk.

I started wishing I had already put so much more in my heart, because it didn’t take long to realize that when this jar-of-clay heart gets shattered, His Word spills out everywhere.

If I’ve put it there.


“My sheep know My voice … ” through His Word.

25 Responses

  1. Grace, this was really great. Through the grief of losing my husband, M.C. Johnson, about 15 months ago, my grief sometimes overwhelmes me and I am so thankful for the verses of Scripture learned (when I was younger) that God reminds me “He is still in control” and His Word is the enduring promise in this world. Thank you for sharing your heart in such a deep, touching way.
    Helen Johnson

  2. This passage has actually been coming up for me a lot lately, so thank you for sharing. Also, I never heard “ticket days”. Now I know there is a name for it. I will now use it to describe my feelings. “Oh, I’m just having a ticket day.”

  3. Was just sharing the last few verses you quoted 2 days ago. My marriage has been built on 2 Cor. 4:18. We often forget those truths. Thank God Holy Spirit brings to mind what we commit to our heart, even if it’s not truly memorized. I’ve had many ticket days, but it is His Word that sustains . Thank you for your honesty.

  4. I never really saw the benefit of memorizing particular passages and locations in scripture, but this is a good point- you’ll remember something important when you feel you can’t think or feel anything at all. Thanks for the reminder. Keep blogging!

  5. Thanks for the reminder, His word is alive and comes more alive in those situations when we will actually understand it best. Glory to His name.

  6. Someone (a good Christian counselor, actually) introduced me to your blog through your “I don’t wait anymore” post, and I check in with you occasionally. You are always such an encouragement to me! Thank you for sharing your heart. I wish I knew you personally– I think we’d be good friends.

  7. Thank you SO much for sharing this!! I have been feeling so broken and shattered, shredded really, over the past month. So many hard things, one after another. To say I feel overwhelmed would be the understatement of the century! This is just what I needed to hear, just the reminder I needed, just at this moment. May God bless you immeasurably!

  8. Thank you for these words. As i’m walking through a season of grief, i need these reminders that there is an eternal glory that is beyond compare to these temporary tears.

    1. So sorry to hear about your grief … it’s so hard, isn’t it? I’m so grateful we’ve got the unseen to look to … and a God who promises He will one day wipe every tear away … (Rev. 21:3-4)

  9. Thank you for sharing your God given gift of writing with us all. This piece is annointed and moved me to tears, and yet is encouraging at the same time. One day I hope to see these blogs in a book.

  10. Thank you I have felt that same pain. After reading this God spoke to me. I do not know enough of His Word hidden in my heart for days to come. I must stay in the Word more and more and keep it memorized in my heart to be able to share and help others as well as encourage myself. Thirsty for His Word. Thank you Grace! Wanda

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