Our humanity & God's grace

Just recently, I was reminded of the nature of our humanity in this fallen world and of God's amazing grace. The reminder came seemingly randomly--through a TV show, a movie and a book. I love it when the Holy Spirit speaks in unexpected ways. I hope I was listening well.

Pete Townsend
The TV show that I watched included an interview with rock legend Pete Townsend of The Who, discussing his newly released autobiography, Who I Am. I fought back tears as he recounted a troubled life--rejection by his parents, mistreatment by his mentally ill grandmother, sexual abuse from his grandmother's boyfriends, and other sources of trauma.

Though the resultant anger and sense of alienation drove him to great achievement in music, it left him with a terrible, gnawing pain deep inside his soul--feeling unloved and unlovable. This pain spilled over into his relationships, including a rocky partnership with band mate Roger Daltrey.

Thankfully, after much bitterness and some shared suffering, Pete and Roger reconciled. Despite all the trauma and many self-inflicted wounds, Pete gained a more healthy perspective on life, including a new view toward the people who had abandoned and abused him. He learned that he is loved and lovable, and he learned how to love. He learned something about grace.

The movie that I watched was Music Within, the true story of Richard Pimentel, who as a child was repeatedly rejected by his mentally ill mother. His father then died and he was left with a deep sense of "I am not"--"No one cares"--"I don't matter." Through a series of events over several years (including time as a soldier in Vietnam), and with the help of some close friends (some who were terribly disabled), Richard's perspective about life and about himself changed. He found meaning and love as a passionate spokesman for the disabled. It's an amazing story of the outworking of grace. Here's the movie trailer (click on the picture to play):

The book that I began reading is The Shack Revisited: There is more going on here than you ever dared to dream, in which Trinitarian theologian Baxter Kruger explores the theology that undergirds the best-selling book, The Shack by Wm. Paul Young. As Baxter explains, The Shack brilliantly and poignantly illustrates, through the experience of a man named Mack, the human condition (alienation from God and from one another) and the healing grace of our triune God who enters that alienation with us, embraces us in our sin and pain, and leads us out into his own triune communion of love.

I don't know what Pete and Richard believe about God, but I see in their stories clear evidence of God's redeeming grace at work. If they haven't already, I hope that they will come to know the God portrayed in The Shack--the Triune God revealed in Jesus--the God who has been journeying with them all of their lives, including in the times they felt most abandoned and rejected. It is this God that Mack came to know, and through his grace was delivered and transformed.

All of us--believers and non-believers alike--battle with alienation (the Bible refers to it as sin) and the pain it brings to us and to others around us. How sad that some preach a God who would add to that pain rather than work to relieve it! How sad that some preach a God who is separate from and rejecting of sinners rather than being the friend of sinners that God is shown to be in Jesus.

Truly, God--Father, Son and Spirit--is with us and for us! He loves and accepts all--unconditionally. It is his passionate desire that all come to know him, and in knowing him to trust him, and in trusting him to enter into the fullness of his triune love and life. That is grace. That is our triune God.