Hello Dotonline Subscribers!
I want to discuss the topic of grace in this post. I figured more people talk about drinking than grace these days so if you happen to be having a drink, and came here because of the title, then please don’t knock your bottle over. Grace might not be coming right over to clean up the mess. When I was a young, I heard a story about a man who died that no one in the community hardly knew. The pastor who buried him had never even met the recently departed who lay in the closed casket in front of the pulpit. “They say that J.D. McBroke was a good man and he never gave a drink to a known drunk. We can be for sure that he will see the grace of God in heaven.” First of all, I know that God’s grace is a relentless and continuosly renewing force of forgiveness that is not affected by anything that we can do. It can’t be earned or purchased. It can’t be refused or returned. It is the free gift of God to all so that no one can brag about having it. It differs from mercy which can be influenced by a repentant heart. We should practice showing as much grace for each other as often as we can. Not for the hope of self gain but soley for the glory of God who has first given us His unfailing grace. The problem with grace is that like all great forces of power, it must be used with wisdom. If not wielded with discretion, those saving and life giving qualities become toxic to an ungrateful recipient. J.D. McBroke was a wise man. By not giving a drunk a drink, he was actually trying to help the people at the bars he frequented. Let’s examine this further. When I was the house manager over a home for homeless and disenfranchised men, my Board of Directors stressed that I should have the men abide by the house rules. They also demanded that in all my disciplinary actions, that I practiced as much grace as possible. Needless to say, I was soon in over my head, constantly torn between having to dismiss someone from the program or to practice grace. Even though rulebreakers deserve to be punished (using “punished” for lack of a better word), grace supercedes justice. In actually, there is nothing fair about grace. It’s not fair for me to get a warning from a cop for speeding when the truth is that I broke the law.The officer, who for whatever reason, that let me go without a ticket showed grace and as a result of that grace, I never had to face judgement, which would have no doubt ended with me paying a fine and points against my license. As a matter of fact, the grace over the situation has dictated that not only do I escape repercussions, but also that there is no record of it. So in honesty, to practice grace at the minission house that I was in meant that I would have to work harder at developing myself than the men I served who broke the rules. I would need more patience. It’s to get rid of a problem than to resolve it. Sometimes in life we are called to take the high road. Sometimes the easy way, or the path of least resistance only leads to a more desperate situation.
The best rule of dealing with how to use grace over law enforcement is to judge whether if we give an offender a break, will it encourage self correction in behavior or insite more wrongdoing. The ultimate goal is to help someone out of hurt…. Not help them to hurt themselves further. Some people thrive off getting second chances for too long and become dependent a false image of themselves. That image is built on the idea that they have “got one over on you” and this could lead them to trouble. Eventually, they will play that game with someone who will show no mercy. Our challenge is to make for certain that our decision in that one matter will be on that will promote growth in both us and the other party involved. Eventually, I did have to dismiss people from the house, however it was done after several one on one meetings, and various action plans for correction were extigushed to no avail. Several years later way after those men and I have been gone from that place, I have still heard from those guys. Many of whom have blossomed in ways I never imagined. Some have told me that thier dismissal was the best thing that has happened to them and they don’t forget the grace and mercy they received at a difficult moment in time. Truthfully, the was in God’s hands. I finally learned to wait on Him to direct my decision, or sometimes just wait. Many times problems are only issues and issues tend to work themselves out. I would be guilty in front of God for granting too much grace in the end than to not have been long-suffering enough with some one while God is developing them. A friend of mine once said, “Ed, don’t sweat the small stuff… especially when it involves someone else…” I have learned over time, that it’s all small stuff. Here at T O P S, I am glad to be under the wing of Pastor Glasgow. It is hard to grab a conversation with him sometimes, because he is always on the phone. But when crap really hits the fan, he seems to show up and mediate issues between people, find a solution and notice that couple on the side of the road with a jug in thier hands walking. Pull over while still counseling, and give that couple a ride to a part of town most preachers won’t dare to go and thereby help them to have a blessed day instead of just telling them, “God bless you.” He too, deep on the inside knows that as Ministers, we often get played by users, bums, and beggars when it comes to giving and giving second chances. But if we are to found in error…. Let us err in giving too much rather than in giving too little. This post is dedicated to my TOPS family and the Spirit that drives us into the promised Kingdom of God while we are yet on Earth. Jesus said He would not drink wine again until he drank it new in the Kingdom of He’s with us.. (Heaven). Even so, come quickly our Lord and Big Brother… Come quickly.
P.S. Enjoy these pics from Mama Tina’s as we fed folks today. Could always use donations and help. Another “grace” moment, as I was taking pics by Mama Tina herself…. A visitor wanted to plates, the rule is one per person. If you are able bodied we want you to come in, sign in an that way we can pray with you also. The volunteer sticks to the rules and the patron begins to disagree…. I heard Mama in the background saying, “Naw honey, nu-uh. Just go ‘head and give him two plates we ain’t trying to hear it… I understand why. There was a room packed full of people waiting… Let’s take care of them and let’s keep the environment friendly and in order for everyone. No need for discord over such a small thing as a plate. Once again I say…. If we are in error family, let us be in error for Love’s sake. Let us give too much rather than not enough.