A Ragamuffin knows that he is only a beggar at the door of God’s mercy.” - Brennan Manning
Many of us have found ourselves coming to understand God's Love for us in the second or third act of our lives. We may have had a basic knowledge of God at an elementary grade level, but the actual trusting and believing in God came later as a small faith began to be lived out. It is, of course, one thing to say that we believe something and quite another to live it out. Living out our faith is an action, it requires something of us. Even if that action is resting in the promises of God momentarily. We may struggle with the feeling that we are not “doing” anything, but that is the pleasant surprise of God's Grace and Mercy. Because of what He has done on the cross, we are free to learn to follow Him, which is a day by day, moment by moment lesson. Sometimes, I look at my life with regret, but I have to rest in the fact that I now know more than I did in the past. His grace has covered my mistakes, my times of poor witness for Him, my lack of trust in His infinite wisdom. He has helped me to seek Him and slowly surrender the parts of my life where I have made a mess of things.
I think sometimes that those of us who discovered His deep, unfailing Love for us later in life, feel that we are second rate, or have arrived late to the party. But Jesus, said otherwise in many of His parables. One of my favorite examples of this comes in Matthew 20. Jesus tells the story of the owner of an estate who went out early to hire workers for his vineyard. They agreed to be paid a days wages. Four times over the course of the day he went out and hired workers. At the end of the day, ALL of the workers received the same pay, even though some only worked for an hour. Obviously, this caused frustration on the part of those who had worked the full day shift and the shifts of shorter lengths. The clamoring began and they cried “unfair”. In today's world and workforce economy, we would all feel those feelings of unfairness and frustration. But this is our Father's world, and He does what pleases Him. He gives the grace we all need, to the capacity that we need it, to cover our sins and bring us all to Him. This story is comforting to me because it means that those of us who fall on His Mercy, Cling to His Cross, Put our Hope in His Unwavering and Unfailing Love have the same chance to experience His Riches as those who have followed Him for most of their life.
“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.”
― Brennan Manning, Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging
The wonder of it all is that He can and does use the Broken, Poor, oft-mistreated, and uninvited to Show forth His Love and Grace on those that the Church will not go to. The ones to whom we are all called to Love and Serve. It takes those who have been great sinners to reach those who are still great sinners. By His Great and Incomprehensible Love, He calls us out in the middle of our broken lives to be used of Him to touch the lives of others who have not Come Home yet. This is the Power of the Gospel! To proclaim freedom to the captives and announce the Good News to those who need it. The Rescuer has come, a Hero for the Ages, and the Great Emancipator of those still enslaved by sin.