Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Portrait of Grace

Warning: This blog repeatedly uses a word that some may find offensive. You have been warned. However, I do not believe that it has been used inappropriately or gratuitously. There is a point. Read on if you are interested.

Wally, Elliot and I were on the street corner across from the church. Wally and Elliot had just finished their after-church smoke and I was helping Wally out of his wheel chair and into the car so I could take him back to his home at the hospital. Just then, I looked down and saw a stream of watery poo come from under Wally’s shorts. It seemed that his diaper had leaked. To be honest I was a grossed out and was not sure what to do. But Elliot did. While I was hesitating, Elliot reached into his pocket and pulled out his handkerchief at the same time saying, “Wally, you’ve got shit running down your leg. Let me clean you up.” And just like that he bent down, wiped Wally’s leg clean and put the handkerchief back into his pocket. That was it. Elliot helped me get Wally into the car and then went on his way home.

This moment felt holy to me. In a situation where human dignity was fragile and fleeting, Elliot reached out, preserved it and gave it back. In fact, it has struck me that Wally’s restored dignity was at the expense of Elliot’s.  It was in this moment that I saw Jesus at work and feel as though I understand a little more of what his grace is all about.  The grace of Jesus finds us a disgraced mess and restores us. But this restoration happens at the expense and disgrace of Jesus.

I think that Elliot’s response in this story was perfect and illustrates another truth as well. Elliot acknowledged the problem for what it was and responded in a gracious manner.  He did not ignore the shit running down Wally’s leg. He did not make a bigger deal out of it than it needed to be. Neither of these responses would have brought about the needed restoration to the problem. Rather, he called it what it was and brought grace to the situation.  Shit happens in other areas of life too. It takes many forms but we know what it is when we see it. I think that one of the things that we, as followers of Christ, can be about is acknowledging the shit of life in a gracious, but honest, manner and then respond in ways that helps bring restoration. Unfortunately, many pretend like shit does not happen or go to the other extreme and blow it out of proportion. Neither of these responses are truly gracious or helpful. 

“The graces of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.” ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:18