Brennan Manning is one of my favorite authors. A Ragamuffin Gospel is one of my favorite books, and one that started my path to understanding Grace better. Not that I fully understand it, obviously, but I’m closer than I was.
I just read this article, which talks about the dirty, vagabond grace that Brennan knew. It talks about a grace that leaves us broken, wrinkled, and dirty. Not the grace we receive, but the grace we give. The grace that God gives.
Brennan was a monk for a time. He spent time among the poor, hauling water pails with donkeys; he spent time in prison, just so he could sympathize. He struggled with alcoholism throughout his life. He wrote about (and believed in) the matchless grace of God, running out to meet him constantly.
I think we all like to cheer for the Brennans of the world. The guys who struggle with life. The alcoholics, drug addicts, and “sinners”. We want that guy to beat it, to get over their addictions, to see their life pick up at some point. We like to admire them from afar.
But we don’t want to be that person. We all want to be the guy who has it all together. We can pay our bills. We don’t have an addiction. We have a nice, quiet life in Suburbia.
We also don’t really want to know that person. Like, really know. We may see these people in church or at work and say, “I’m sorry, man” or, the always helpful “I’ll pray for you” but we don’t really want to get down and dirty with them. We are afraid of being caught in that situation, being real and vulnerable and grimy. Going through something with somebody that we have no idea about.
Maybe these are just my thoughts, but the thing is, I am that guy. My soul is dark. Too many times I catch myself skimming by those in need. I don’t want to get my hands dirty. I have this perception of myself that I’m beyond that. I’ve put in my time. I’ve struggled, and beat it. Every time I start thinking like that, though, something happens. Something to let me know that I’m not enough. Marriage is weird, in that it teaches you a lot about yourself that you never knew. I’m only a few weeks in and I could fill a notebook with all I’ve learned about myself. And I’m afraid Autumn’s learning a lot about me, too.
Point is, I haven’t beaten anything. I still need grace. And, I still need to be grace. I don’t want to have the attitude that I’m above anything, or anybody. I want to love and give grace to everyone. I want to be worn out at the end. Real, and broken, wrinkled, and dirty.