This beautiful story comes to us from Julian Brooks:

The following is a true story. But before I share it, here’s a brief disclaimer that should keep in perspective the purpose of this story, of why it is worth sharing.

Grace cannot guarantee results or change. If it could, it would simply turn back into law. Law promises this for that–that’s exactly why the law can’t produce what it demands. Grace simply loves. Its reason for turning the other cheek is not because it guarantees that its enemies will no longer strike. It turns the other cheek because it loves its enemies more than it loves itself. Stories of grace in real life are beautiful and powerful. But we must be careful not to turn them into something we try to reproduce. Often we are after the results, the change, the victory, or the testimony more than the person. Grace must always be seen as something we have received from God. We are the needy, the ones for whom the story is written; I have struck the face of God and I have been forgiven.


The conversation had come to a pause. I certainly didn’t have any words to say.

“She’s been unfaithful.” My friend’s words broke the silence, just above the sound of a whisper. His voice was full of pain and sorrow.

“I’m so sorry,” I replied. I truly meant it, but I also knew they were just words–words that certainly had no power to relieve the flood of pain he was enduring. But what else could I say?

He was in the midst of a marriage crisis. Even before this things were on the rocks, to say the least. Now there had been unfaithfulness. All I could do was listen to him from the other end of the phone, hundreds of miles away, and hope that God would lovingly provide the comfort that this wounded relationship so desperately needed.

At the time, I was just starting to get the gospel in my own life. I was a recovering legalist completely scandalized by grace. My own failures were so evident in my life that I certainly had no judgment towards my friends at all. I just wanted to be there for them in some kind of way. As I fumbled through the conversation on the other end of the phone, my friend mentioned they were going to go to counseling.

I affirmed him that that was the right thing to do. Give it some time, get some help. Then an outrageous thought crossed my mind. Something that I felt would be ridiculous to suggest. Now, before I get to that, let me remind you that I am not trying to provide a formula for reconciliation between husbands and wives. The last thing I want this story to do is make those of you who have cheated or been cheated on feel more shame because things ended differently for you. This story is meant to remove shame not cause it. This is a story of pure Grace, therefore by definition it can’t be copied and pasted into anyone else’s situation. Grace cannot be controlled or used to manipulate. In fact, even though this story deals with a couple in the midst of a marital trial, the main point is to provide a real life scenario of what it looks like to live under the banner that reads, It Is Finished. This is a story about what awaits us at the end of your sin, a story that reveals Christ for YOU!

“You should buy her roses,” I said as carefully as possible.


My friend chuckled a bit, perhaps out of anger, or sheer disbelief that I could say such a thing.

“I don’t think I can do that,” he responded honestly.

“That’s fine. But if somehow God grants you the grace to do that, just see what happens. When you guys meet up for counseling, have some roses waiting for her.”

“I’m just trying not to kill anyone,” he replied. “I don’t think I can buy her roses.”

“No pressure–I doubt I could do it. But forgiveness is wild, man. You just never know what will happen.” We chatted a little bit more and prayed. To be honest I really didn’t think he would do it–I felt silly for even recommending it. Like I wasn’t being understanding enough to just feel the pain he felt.

A day or two later he called me back. His voice was light and free. He got right to the point.

“I bought them,” he said exuberantly. “I wasn’t going to. The whole way over to meet with the pastor I was thinking, ‘Heck no, I’m not buying her any flowers.’ But the closer I got to the office, the thought started to plague me. So I prayed, ‘God if this is really what you want, there needs to be a florist’s shop on the way. Because I’m definitely not backtracking to find one.’ And of course, one block from the church, there was a florist’s shop. Up until the moment I walked into the store, I was angry; I really had no desire to do it. But when I bought them everything felt different. I couldn’t wait to give them to her. I needed her to know I was hurt but, more than that, that I really forgive her.”

It took me a moment to process what my friend was saying. “You really bought your wife the roses? I mean honestly, man, not that I didn’t have any faith in you, but how did you do that?” And then, with excitement, I asked: “So what happened next?”

“She wasn’t there when I first arrived, and the pastor was curious as to why I had flowers. He asked me, ‘You did just find out about the unfaithfulness yesterday, right?’ ‘Yes,’ I answered. ‘Well,’ the pastor went on, ‘I can honestly say that in over 20 years of ministry, this is a first.’

“When she showed up, she saw the flowers and started crying,” my friend continued. “We held each other. I wanted her to know she really was forgiven and that somehow we will make it through.”


There’s plenty more to the story. God is continuing to do a wonderful work of grace in my friend’s marriage. But, again, the point of this story is not to recommend this as advice to someone else, or to make you feel like a failure if your own marriage wasn’t reconciled. The point of this story is to highlight just how uncontrollable and unexpected grace can be.

Try to imagine it this way: You have just failed someone who loves you. As you approach him or her, there are things you are certain of–how you have failed, how you deserve judgment–but the last thing you expect is flowers. But what you receive upon arrival is not just a gesture of “I’m willing to work things out” or “I’ll give you one more chance” but a gift assuring you that you are loved. This story goes against the very core of our nature. None of us expect love to be waiting for us when we sin–perhaps we expect some grace for accidental mess ups, but not for the really big sins. We expect something other than forgiveness and the reassurance of love.

I believe it was Chad Bird who put it this way: “Grace is always a surprise because it’s never deserved.” Perhaps you’re reading this and you are convinced that God is absolutely done with you. You have become enslaved to sin, and all the scriptures of warning are being twisted out of context in your head; they accuse you and tell you that you are too far gone or that you are not the elect. “You wouldn’t be going back to these things if you really loved God,” the toothless foe roars. To which you should reply with a hearty “Amen!” Of course you wouldn’t sin if you really loved God. But the truth is that God really loves you, yes, even the you that you don’t think anyone knows about; the bitter, backbiting, scorekeeping, insecure train wreck that is you! Today, the only thing God has for you is roses. Bought just for you, at a cost to himself, because he loves you that much. And, yes, even your unfaithfulness is not going to change that.