There have been moments in my walk with Christ, where I have become disheartened by my Faith. This season in my life is one of those moments that I can feel creeping in. I was in touch with a dearly loved one this past week, and the encounter is still settling on me like a heavy blanket. It is a sadness that I feel because of all that I witnessed, yet at the same time, seeing this person was comforting to me. But like a heavy blanket, it threatens to suffocate me.
My grief is slow in coming this time, but lo and behold, it is here, as it usually is after visiting with this loved one. As a result, I am challenged again with my ideas of Christianity, Heaven, and those who Jesus will want to see again one day. Brennan Manning writes in his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up and Burnt Out, about those who suffer in this life, and what awaits them in the next. He writes:
Because salvation is by grace through faith, I believe that among the countless number of people standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands (see Revelation 7:9), I shall see the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me that she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son. I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives; the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions; the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love; the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last ‘trick’, whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school.
‘But how?’ we ask.
Then the voice says, ‘They have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’
There they are. There *we* are - the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life’s tribulations, but through it all clung to faith.
My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace.”
― Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out
If I am not careful, I come to the conclusion that Jesus’ Heaven will be full of neat and clean people, but once I look into the eyes of my loved one who is homeless, mentally ill and tormented daily, I am CONVINCED there is a place for her among the godly in Heaven. She has the purest heart, in her deepest need, and she is all alone figuring out what it means to deal with voices, delusion and paranoia. Yet she welcomes my prayers. She does not shrink away from God, though she cannot find Him right now. And if I am not careful, again, I will not understand what He is doing here on earth. I must trust His heart when I do not understand His ways. But most of all, I must hold onto His Grace.