Have you ever had a grace whipping? When we were children, most of us have had a whipping or two at one time or another. Some of us have had more than others. Of course, many people don't believe in whippings at all, but that is another story for another time. Several weeks ago our pastor told a very humorous story about his young granddaughter. It seems she was in a room with several other children and some adults were talking about various forms of discipline. The adults mentioned several methods such as having time out, taking away privileges and going to stand in the corner. After a bit, our pastor's granddaughter said, "We don't have no corners at our house, just whuppings." Out of the mouth of babes.

While a physical whipping can hurt for a little while, a grace whipping can hurt much longer and, as you will soon see, have a positive, cleansing and redeeming effect. Several months ago we had an African-American pastor come to our church for a "Day of Preaching" and our pastor gave him his Sunday school teaching hour, plus both the morning and evening worship services. You just know that a preacher really has to be special for my pastor to give up his pulpit for a whole day. This visiting preacher's name was Dr. Robert Smith, professor of preaching at Beeson Divinity School of Samford University, Birmingham, Ala.

Without a doubt, Dr. Smith is one of the very best preachers I have heard in my entire life. He told the story about one Christmas morning when he was 11 years of age and he had requested and received a 10-speed English Racer bicycle. His brother was 7 years of age, but he was a tough 7, and he got a Huffy manual bicycle. That Christmas morning before Robert could get on his new English 10 speed, his brother got on it and they had a little tussle or a fight. After a bit his mother came out on the porch and said, "Ah-Ha." They stopped fighting and they just knew she was going to say, "Go and select your switch and make it a good one."

But she did not do that. Rather she said, "Hit him little Robert, (his father was Robert Sr., so he was little Robert,) hit him Jimbo, that was Woolly, his brother. Hit him some more. If you don't fight, I am going to tear both of you up." Strange! After a while blood started coming out of both of their noses and their eyes were red and finally she stopped them. At this point, she said, with tears in her eyes, "Today you have broken my heart. I risked my life giving birth to both of you when you were born. When I didn't have money to catch the bus to go to work, I made sure you had a ride. When I didn't have any money to buy lunch, I made sure you had something to eat. When I had holes in my clothes, I made sure yours didn't, because I knew your friends would make fun of you."

All she was doing was just rolling back the curtain showing them how much she loved them and how good she had been to both of them. Finally both boys said, "Mother, whip us, please whip us, whip us." But grace was whipping them. It would have been much easier to have received a belt whipping than a grace whipping. Robert went on to say, "You know something, after this incident, we never hit each other again. It was not that we were afraid of the belt, but rather we just knew how much she loved us and how good she had been to us."

Now, back to my question, have you ever had a grace whipping? Grace means unmerited favor or getting something of valuable that we don't deserve. From my heart I can tell you this. There is nothing on earth like the grace of God.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won't go wrong helping a needy child.)