Lessons in grace...
He looks us in the eye, breathes filthy fumes of alcohol and smoke into our faces, his drunken hatred and anger poorly disguised. ‘Listen give me a score’. It’s Sunday in our inner city corps. ‘Ray we can’t help you like that’. The ex-boxer with nothing but the trophies of alcohol etched on his face, drops the disguise and growls ‘Just do it’. We fend off wave after wave of drunken abuse before he leaves with a parcel of clothing ‘...well f... The Salvation Army, f... Jesus and f... you’.
We take a deep breath and feel a sense of outrage and burning anger, not at Ray but at the circumstances that throw people into such depravity. We wander home wounded. This isn’t the romantic trendy mission dreamed up in books, articles and conferences, this is bare knuckle in your face mission, an outpouring of God’s love that costs, hurts but fulfils.
You know what? Ray over the years has taught me more about grace than anyone!