A couple of weeks ago, many of you read in this space the sad story of the untimely demise of Fred Flintstone. After more than a decade of dinnertime companionship in our home, poor Fred cracked up; he just fell to pieces.

Joanna broke my Fred Flintstone glass.

Fred felt like part of the family. He arrived in the mail one day, and for at least 11 years, he was “Daddy’s glass.” I drank a swimming pool full of iced tea out of my Fred glass over the years. Not to mention water, milk, lemonade and the occasional Dr Pepper.

But my wife sat on the cabinet, eating a cookie, when she leaned back on her left hand and gave ol’ Fred a bump. He tumped over and simply fell apart.

The thing about writing a weekly column is no misadventure goes unexplored. A silver thread of opportunity weaves through the rags of every disappointment. Let’s just call it “column fodder.”

So, I told you about the fall of Fred. And I shared my fleeting theory that maybe Jo broke my favorite glass just to get my mind off sending Lindsay, our oldest daughter, off to college.

And that was it, for a few days.

But my friend Lynda saw that column and rose to the occasion. The day after she read about Fred, she traveled to Canton for First Monday Trading Days, and she kept her eye pealed for a suitable replacement.

A couple of days later, I received a package filled with shredded newspaper cradling another Fred Flintstone souvenir glass. This new one, with a picture of Fred and Barney and Dino out “hunting,” is in mint condition. I bet it’ll hold another swimming pool full of iced tea during the next decade. And a few days after that, an anonymous reader sent me a Fred Flintstone coffee mug. My collection doubled.

These gifts reminded me of the time when I was a little kid and we vacationed at a dude ranch in Creede, Colo. One day, Daddy and I went fishing and had absolutely lousy luck. That night, as we walked to the outhouse before bed, we sang a made-up song, “Marv and Daddy fished all day and caught no fishes.”

The next morning, a man from down the way knocked on our door. Daddy answered. “Are you the man with the little boy who ‘fished all day and caught no fishes’?” he asked.

“Yessir,” Daddy confessed.

“Well, we’ve got this mess of fish, and we’re going home today, and we thought you might like them,” the man said, and handed my dad a bag full of freshly caught fish.

I think we ate fish that morning for breakfast and feasted like royalty.

Both these events, in a small way, reflect upon grace. God’s gifts often arrive when we least expect them, many times when we’re disappointed or discouraged. We don’t have the imagination to dream them up, nor the resources to scheme them up. But they remind us of God’s goodness, exhibited in the thoughtfulness of friends and the kindness of strangers.

Marv Knox is editor of the Baptist Standard. This column was reprinted with permission.

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