A Militant Grace

Christmas is coming. Christmas – all that food , family, festive fun. This year, I’ve volunteered to help out with organising some Christmas boxes to go to orphanages in Moldova. The volunteering conversation was unexpected.

“I would like to help out with the Moldova boxes.”

“I should warn you, I’m militant.”

I know that most of the time, when people ask for help, and somebody offers to help, the response is supposed to be gratitude. But here Moldova Lady stood, looking me up and down, trying to scare me away.

“Yeah, okay.”

“I’m militant about these boxes. No rubbish.” (She kind of reminded me of some of my previous bosses when she spoke, so I knew I would be okay.)

“That’s fine. What can I do to help?”

Some might say that Moldova Lady was being arrogant, or even rude, or conceited, or unappreciative. I just think she was being honest, and that she was operating from a place of militant grace. And I believe in grace. I believe in a militant grace, that stands in the gap for another, and won’t accept the dregs on their behalf.

Because yes, those children in Moldova don’t have anything, and they look forward to these Christmas boxes. But just because they don’t have anything, doesn’t mean we should give them second class stuff. Sure, we can donate the things we don’t need anymore, but the Christmas present? How would you like a Christmas present that was cheap and of inferior quality, or a hand-me-down, when you know that the person giving it to you can afford so much more?

Grace means treating the person better than they deserve. Militant grace means standing up for those who have no voice, and saying, “We can give them more than this, do better than this.” Militant grace doesn’t accept what it sees, but addresses the need. And not in a half-hearted way either. Militant grace knows that love is never wasted. Yes, the child in the orphanage may never know that it was you that gave, but they will know that someone somewhere thought they were valuable and important enough to give the very best they could.

Militant grace is looking at your own life and deciding to live generously, deciding that it’s not all about you, and what you can get out of it. Militant grace stands, and keeps standing, when confronted by the needs of the society within which we live. It reaches out, and sees that there is always another way. Just because that is the way that it has been, or could be, that doesn’t mean that is the way that it will be.

I suspect that it was grace, militant grace, that fought to make slavery illegal, and saved children from forced labour and illiteracy in this country. It is grace that continues to fight for the lives of those caught in human trafficking and slavery today. It is grace that reaches out to rescue those who sometimes don’t know that they need rescuing themselves.

But grace doesn’t need to be all those big gestures. It can be buying somebody a coffee, or choosing not to shout at the waiter when he spills your drink, or stopping in the business of your day to talk to somebody. It can be going to a new mother’s house and washing her dishes or folding her laundry, or keeping an eye on the toddler while she naps. Grace, and especially militant grace, quite often can be a bit uncomfortable, and even scary. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.

Be militant in your grace. Be intentional. Be just a little bit scary.

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