What we need is grace — costly but free

By Curtis Shelburne: CNJ columnist

I am in Austin, Texas, this week with my wife, her honor the municipal judge, as she is taking a week of special training. I’m all for that.

Training is a good thing. It’s good for our city officials to be highly trained. I’m lobbying for more of such training, not less, because, whatever the quality of the training (which I trust is high), it is obviously great for the spouses of such officials to spend the week of their dear one’s training relaxing at the hotel, reading books, drinking coffee, sightseeing, or at least doing some of their normal work away from their normal office.

A change of pace and scene is a good thing. In fact, let me encourage you to call your state legislators and encourage them to require more excellent and much-needed training for, say, municipal judges.
Zig Ziglar once used a motivational speech encouraging business folks to think about the enthusiasm and energy with which they do their work on the week before a vacation—and then try to work with that kind of drive and determination every week. Sounds like a great idea. I know what he means. But he forgot to mention that, at that pace, you’d almost certainly shorten your life and soon take a permanent vacation six feet under. I’m guessing you’d crash completely in about three months. I know I worked like a Turk to get two weeks worth of work done in one. It was worth it, but . . .
One thing I didn’t get done was this column. I’m trying to be “schedule-less” this week, but I’ve failed on this score. I’ve got 30 minutes or so to get this done. That’s not enough.
Once it’s done, it’s gotta be sent to the folks who publish it. That’s fine except … well, if you stay in a really cheap hotel, you expect few amenities and you expect what amenities there are to cost extra.

Trust me, your best bet lodging-wise is a nice upper-middle range sort of hotel where they give you lots of neat free stuff to get you to choose them. You likely won’t have a choice of hotel at a training conference, but if you stay in a sort of posh high-brow hotel, they charge extra for everything from the calls you make to the air you breathe to each square of toilet paper and they don’t have neat things like free breakfast or, to the present point, free Internet access.

I figure that sending this out will cost me $10 and it won’t slide through cyberspace one bit better than it would if the Internet here at the Inn of Blue Blood Bliss was free. You’ll probably agree with me that this column this week is not worth the ten-spot, though I hope later in the week to write a couple or three, at a leisurely pace, that might be a tad weightier.
Ah, such is life. Living itself can be hectic. And expensive. And something less than well-planned and intentional. What humans such as us really need is much more important than free Internet. What we need is lots and lots of grace. Priceless. Unimaginably costly to God. But freely given and always available.

Thank for his gift.

Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at