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Women World Leaders' Podcast

Sep 29, 2023

Today, Julie Harwick shares about how God opened her eyes to her own failings while giving her His grace. Our God is always there when we need Him the most.


Welcome to Celebrating God’s Grace, a Women World Leaders podcast. I’m your host, Julie Harwick. Thank you for joining me today as we celebrate God’s grace in our lives, in this ministry and around the world.

When my children were small and I was very engaged in teaching them the value of first-time obedience, God opened my eyes to my own failings in that area, but fortunately, His grace was there once again, when I needed it most.

I dropped off my four-year-old twins at preschool, and set out to do a little shopping and run some errands while I enjoyed a little extra freedom.  I needed gas before I went too far, so I filled up at the nearby 7-11. The pay at the pump feature didn’t work, so I had to go inside. As I approached the cash register, I met the gaze of an older man who appeared to be homeless, or at least down on his luck. I tried to break eye contact before he actually spoke to me because I was pretty sure I knew what he would say. I was half-way past him when I heard, “Excuse me, Miss, could you possibly buy me a hot dog?” Before the words were completely out of his mouth, I responded without even thinking with my usual, “Sorry, I can’t.” I paid at the register and got back in my van as quickly as possible. I always got very nervous when someone approached me asking for money. It felt heartless to ignore them or say no, but I also knew that 99% of the time, that money would go for drugs or alcohol, so I almost always said no.  As I fastened my seatbelt, I replayed the exchange in my mind and it finally registered with me, “he didn’t ask for money – he only asked me to buy him a hot dog.” My heart sank as I was confronted with how truly thoughtless I had been. Of course I could have and should have bought him a hot dog.  There was absolutely no reason not to.  A hot dog couldn’t possibly feed a drug or alcohol addiction. This would’ve been the perfect opportunity to help someone without questioning if it was the right thing to do. But based on previous experiences and appearance, I dismissed him without really even listening to what he was asking. I felt a deep sense of conviction and immediately headed back inside hoping that I could rectify my wrong by buying him a hotdog and any other food or drink he might like.  When I entered the store, he was nowhere to be found. I asked the clerk if he had seen the homeless man who was here just a minute ago.  He said a number of homeless people often came in, so much so that he frequently called the police. After checking every aisle and looking all around outside, I got back into my van. It seemed strange that he completely disappeared so quickly.  I was reminded of Hebrews 13:2  which says “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Could he have been an angel sent by God to test my willingness to show hospitality to a stranger? If so, I had failed miserably.

I went on about my day, but the whole experience kept replaying in my mind and I couldn’t shake the shame and disappointment I felt about the way I had handled it. When my girls were taking a nap that afternoon, I settled in for some time alone with God. I usually read scripture first and then spent some time in prayer. My bible fell open to Matthew 21:28-31.  It said, “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ’I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.  Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, Sir,’ but he did not go.  Which of the two did what his father wanted?” As with all of Jesus’ parables, there was a lot of meaning packed into this short story, but in this moment, I believed God was speaking directly to me about my failure earlier in the day. I was the first son who initially said no, but after some thought, realized there was a command I needed to obey and set about doing it. While it would’ve been better if I had obeyed instantly, the fact that after initially saying, “no,” I actually followed through was all that really mattered. Jesus saw my repentant heart and used His own words to comfort and teach me. This became known as my “hot dog story,” as I shared it with those closest to me. The way this parable specifically addressed the very thing I was struggling with reassured me that God wants to communicate with us directly and personally. It also showed me that He is eager to extend His grace to us when we pour out our hearts in repentance.

I wish I could say that this memorable experience got through to me in such a way that I never struggled with immediate obedience again. But of course, you know that’s not the case.

One area where I frequently feel the Holy Spirit’s conviction and correction is when I’m driving.  I’m not an aggressive driver, but I tend to be very passionate about what is fair and correct on the road.  If traffic is barely moving because two lanes are merging into one, God help you if you attempt to illegally drive down the shoulder and force your way back in and get further ahead. I’m the vehicle attempting to straddle the right lane and the shoulder to keep you from doing it, while making sure of course to stay out of the way of emergency vehicles. Circumstances like that get me all cranked up and very focused on protecting my rights. While there’s no question that cutting in front of others is wrong, and driving on the shoulder is illegal, being obsessed with making sure my rights are not violated in something as inconsequential as traffic is also wrong. If Jesus willingly laid down His divine rights to put on human flesh, He probably wouldn’t make a big deal out of a car cutting Him off. Jesus probably wouldn’t straddle two lanes to keep someone from getting ahead. He would probably make room for them fulling realizing that the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. For some reason, getting behind the wheel prompts me to look at other drivers more as adversaries than people loved by God. What does it cost me to slow down and let someone move into the lane ahead of me? But that’s not the way I think. In the same way I programmed myself to say, “Sorry, I can’t,” to the homeless man, I tend to go on autopilot behind the wheel – making sure no other drivers take advantage of me. For me, this is literally where the rubber meets the road. Do I drive the way Jesus would? Why not? If I’m honest, I have to admit it’s because I’m selfish.

Human nature and selfishness go hand in hand, but God calls us to die to self and follow His example. Ephesians 4: 22-24 says, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Like so many scriptures, this makes complete sense and is simple, but in no way is it easy! God knows it isn’t and in His grace, He works on me in small increments I can handle. So being made new in the attitude of my mind in areas like driving or dealing with homeless people asking for help may seem trivial compared to issues of much greater importance. But I have to believe that if I could put on the new self in such small everyday ways, I’d be more likely to get it right when a serious challenge comes along. I have no doubt that God is using these situations to convict me of my wrong attitudes and to refine me to become a little more like Jesus. He knows my weakness and reminds me that, “His grace is sufficient for me and that His power is perfected in my weakness.” That kind of grace is exactly what I need and the only hope I have of fulfilling His ultimate purpose of conforming me to His image.

Thanks for listening to Women World Leaders podcast!  Join us each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as we explore together God’s extravagant love and your courageous purpose.  Visit our website at to submit a prayer request, register for an upcoming event, and support the ministry.  From His heart to yours, we are Women World Leaders .  All content is copyrighted by Women World Leaders and cannot be used without written consent.