Archive for December 25th, 2011

In the movie The Aviator, Leonardo Dicaprio, playing the character of Howard Hughes, is trying to produce a film that contains a dogfight – an airplane battle in the sky. After watching the first take on film, he commented; ‘We’ve gotta have clouds. Without clouds there is no perspective.’

I thought of that in relation to grace; without the backdrop of sin, grace can lack perspective. Brennan Manning has a new book out – All Is Grace. If you know anything about Brennan Manning, you know his life is that good backdrop.

Philip Yancey, in his forward, says that Manning could hold and audience of thousands spellbound while telling about a Maker who loves and forgives; but then could end up in his hotel room drinking himself senseless. Each time he begged for forgiveness. Philip writes that he ‘progressed not by always making right decisions but by responding appropriately to wrong ones’.

I can relate to Brennan Manning – progressing not by right decisions but by responding appropriately to wrong ones. After doing things I swore I would never do again . . . over and over and over, sometimes I would make myself go without eating; partly to prove to God that I was sorry and partly in hopes that it would make me think a little more the next time.

I like what Manning says on the front end of his book:

This book is by the one who thought he’d
be farther along by now, but he’s not.
It is by the inmate who promised the parole
board he’d be good, but he wasn’t.
It is by the dim-eyed who showed the path
to others but kept losing his way.
It is by the wet-brained who believed if a
little wine is good for the stomach,
then a lot is great.

Some will not be able to relate to this. Some might even disagree with it. But for those of us who have struggled in the battle against evil – winning sometimes but also losing sometimes – where would we be without grace. I like the way Max Lucado puts it; “Mercy forgave the prodigal. Grace threw him a feast.” Grace doesn’t stop at forgiveness. When we come to our senses, no matter how many times, grace offers us an opportunity to start over.

Without this backdrop of sin, grace can end up like items in a store, just another item we associate with Christianity. But with this backdrop, it becomes the window display that catches the eye and makes people want to stop and come in.

Today is December 22. We are getting ready to celebrate the birth of the One who made this grace possible. It is an undeserved gift no matter how you look at it; but if you’ve been the repeat offender, it is the gift. Against that backdrop, grace has perspective.


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