Ed Melick is the co-producer and co-host of the Grace in 30 radio program on WERA-LP, 96.7 FM transmitting out of Arlington, VA. He has recently written two books that are scheduled for release at the end of summer 2019. The first book, Monumental Hug—Divorce, Cancer, Healing & Grace, is the story of how God’s grace healed his relationship with his ex-wife, and how they walked together through her battle with pancreatic cancer. The second book, Healing Plunge—An in-depth look at healing in the Bible, is a summary of his recent plunge into the topic of healing in the scriptures.
Strands of Grace
What does God’s grace mean to you?
For me, a deep understanding of grace began with a painful divorce.
In April 2008, my wife of over twenty-two years informed me that she wanted to end our marriage. I was devastated. Two days after receiving the news, though, I felt led by God to lay down my life for her no matter what she or her attorney did to me—and He began giving me compelling glimpses of the realness, power, and beauty of His grace. Over the ten years that followed, I experienced the astonishing power of loving my enemy and committed my life to sharing the Good News of God’s grace with everyone I could.
During much of the first three-and-a-half years of my separation and divorce, I shared an office with the Director of Sales at my company, Sal D’Itri. I often tell people that Sal had a front row seat to my divorce and everything that was happening in my life and family. At times I felt like he should have pulled out a soft drink and a giant tub of popcorn while listening to me as I regaled him with stories of grief, struggle, and especially grace.
Toward the end of my tenure at the company, Sal would occasionally say, “We should do a radio show together,” while we were joking around about various topics. My answer was always the same. “No way,” I would say. “I’ll wind up getting on the air and saying something stupid that I’ll regret, or cursing, or whatever.”
Grace in 30
When I was released by the company in the Fall of 2011, we kept in touch, but the topic of a radio show didn’t come up again until the Fall of 2015. Sal called me one day and told me that a local community media organization had just launched a new low-power radio station and that they were looking for content. He wanted to team up and produce and host a program.
My initial reaction was disinterest. Something like a radio program was the furthest thing from my mind. Sal kept pushing, though, and I suggested that we both go off and pray about it for a week, and then come back together and see how we felt.
A week later we were on the phone again and Sal was as pumped as ever. I didn’t really feel any strong urgings one way or another, so I decided to lateral the ball to him. I asked him to take a first cut at the application and then send it to me.
Not long after that I received the completed form from him. It’s at this point that I realized that the radio program could be an excellent channel for sharing what I had learned about the radical power of God’s grace. There seemed to be no doubt that such a message was needed to counter all the negativity, extremism, and un-grace in our culture and media. I decided to dive in and the Grace in 30 radio program was born.
Three Years Later
At the time of this writing, Sal and I have been doing the weekly radio program for over three years and have aired 166 programs. The reason our show exists is to, “See to it that no one misses out on God’s grace” (Hebrews 12:15, CJB). How we do that is by providing compelling examples of grace in action and a spark to get more people expressing it. We host individuals and organizations that are living by grace, so to speak, and we have them issue calls-to-action for listeners to join in and make our families, workplaces, communities, and world better.
We have talked to over one-hundred-and-thirty people. As we hosted more people, we noticed certain themes repeating themselves. I also noticed how these themes overlapped with my experiences expressing grace to my ex-wife. I call these “strands of grace.”
One strand that really resonates with me in our culture of division is closeness. Many of our guests talk of the importance of getting close to people who are different than you—especially your enemies—and building lasting relationships with them.
I can’t think of a better example of this than Daryl Davis, an African American musician and author who is on a mission to tear down some of the most extreme barriers between whites and blacks in our country. Daryl has been befriending KKK members and attending their rallies for nearly forty years. As these Klansmen and Daryl get to know each other, the hatreds and prejudices of the Klansmen melt away to such an extent that many of them have renounced their beliefs, and about forty of them have given Daryl their robes and hoods for display in a museum he’s planning to open. Some of the people who left the Klan were very senior in the organization, including former Grand Dragons and Imperial Wizards.
Daryl challenged our audience to take the time to get to know people who are not only different from us, but radically opposed to us. He challenged everyone to walk across the cafeteria and sit down with them, learn about them, and keep that going.
We have heard many stories like Daryl’s about people crossing the lines that divide them from others, like when a Christian lawyer successfully defended a Somali Muslim accused by the U.S. Government of piracy and when a university president slept in a metro station on a frigid February night in order to get a better understanding of what the homeless experience.
When my wife filed for divorce and moved out, I was offered a lot of mean-spirited advice. People told me I needed to get mean, stop talking to her, and cut off communications between her and my family members. I decided to act counter to that advice and express grace, and I went out of my way to cross, as often as possible, the barrier of separation that my ex-wife had set up between us. I determined that every time I had the opportunity to interact with her I would do so—even when she was only using me to get something done. The results of this were breathtaking and I write about my experiences in my soon-to-be-released book entitled Monumental Hug—Divorce, Cancer, Grace & Healing.
Of course, the greatest example of crossing a boundary occurred when God gave up His divine privileges, took on human form, and eventually died a horrible criminal’s death so that we might receive forgiveness for our sins and eternal life in His coming Kingdom. This should be the gold standard by which we measure our efforts.
I encourage you to consider all of these examples of getting close to those who are different than us, make the effort to get to know your foes (political, professional, etc.), and watch the grace of Jesus Christ dissolve prejudices, build bonds of love, and dramatically heal relationships. Our world desperately needs more people who are doing this.
Other ways to engage online:
Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.