May 28, 2009
"That Amazing Grace" has gone, but . . .
She knew for certain where she was going. She knew for certain whom she would join. And, with emphatic zeal, she spent a great part of her life endeavoring to make the same hope available to anyone she met. She wanted her kids, as she called them, to become God's kids. And they did, by the hundreds - perhaps by the thousands.
How many of us will remember her kneeling in a corner with some beleaguered newcomer, showering that person with love and leading that person to Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. She did it unashamedly and boldly. She did it because she knew it was God's absolute will for all to be saved and to come unto a full and accurate knowledge of the truth in His Word. She studied that Word. She believed it. And she spoke it. She was unquestionably a woman of God. That Amazing Grace.
A personal note. I met her at one of the several Clarence Snyder retreats. This one at Lake Wapogasset, Wisconsin. What a strange name and a strange place for such a meeting to take place. But I was asked to come and tell of early A.A.'s roots in the Bible and in the Christian Fellowship of which it was an integral part. One of Grace's people had warned her to be wary of me. But she said she would judge for herself. So she was at the retreat, and we met.
The dynamics were incredible. She was a beautiful lady, a refined lady, and a lady whose face and mannerisms radiated God's love. No ordinary person she. She belted out her salvation message at a meeting where we spoke together. I found myself among AAs and alcoholic/addicts who were talking about God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ. I found myself with a woman who saw a need in an A.A. meeting and boldly asked the sick AA if he wanted to be prayed for. He did, and she prayed. Right there. Right then. When she spoke at retreats, she spoke of love and with love. She spoke of her beloved husband and teacher Clarence H. Snyder. She spoke of A.A., the Big Book, and the Twelve Steps. Then she went to work, as her husband had done before her and with her leading people to Christ and conducting prayer and praise sessions after the conference had officially closed. Both knew the importance of the verse Clarence had been taught at one of the earliest A.A. meetings by one of the stalwart pioneers, William V. H. It was 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. What a promise for alcoholics! Clarence and Grace offered that promise wherever they went.
I asked Grace if I might write a book about her. We were both hard of hearing. She, of course, was in denial about that! I thought she hadn't heard me. But on the phone, she said that my son Ken and I might come, spend a week with her, and learn what she had learned from Clarence about early A.A. history and how they had each spent their lives. We arrived. She gave of herself to the point of exhaustion every day. We laughed. We cried. We talked. We wrote. We checked and rechecked. And the story was done. It was the story of that Amazing Grace.
My life changed because I found that one could fully and freely talk about his or her own religious convictions and experience in Alcoholics Anonymous and find fellowships of like-minded believers. Maui has never been the same. There is gossip of Jesus freaks and Bible thumpers, but the newcomers keep coming with their needs. Many not only recover but are delivered from the power of darkness through being born again of the Holy Spirit and learning what God's only begotten Son accomplished and made available to them. They change. Their lives change. And they become ambassadors for Christ.
Today people often hold ."celebrations." instead of funerals. They celebrate the life of the person who has died. I also celebrate the life of Grace Snyder. We know she truly touched deeply the lives of many in desperate need of deliverance. Without the power of God to help her, her efforts could not have born fruit. And she knew this well. Her amazing grace was not of herself, but of the grace of God.
Many will sorrow over Grace's passing. Many will miss her much. I know that I will. But all can sooner of later realize that she depended upon the anchor of the soul that is spoken of in the Word of God - the return of Jesus Christ.
Like her husband Clarence, she had no fear of death. She had no reason to fear death because she was a true Christian believer. What we celebrate as to Grace's life is what she bequeathed to us in abundance. She left us with the sure and certain knowledge that we can all become God's kids. That God takes care of His kids, and most certainly the ones that the Devil afflicts with alcoholism. And that God cares more about what we do to bring others to Him and His Word that He does about our shortcomings and failures. He gave His son to take care of those.
Grace told me several times that she wanted to die with her boots on. She certainly kept marching as long as she could. There were no negatives in her itinerary or path. We celebrate the fact that she left oodles of boots to us with the assurance that many of us would keep marching in her steps, perhaps thinking, as she must have, ."Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."
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