The Day I Almost Met Brennan Manning by Pastor Welty
A friend of mine introduced me to the ministry of Brennan Manning via cassette tape almost twenty years ago. I had heard or read his name but didn’t really know who he was. Then I heard him speak. His raspy voice sounded forth a theme that I had only experienced intellectually – the unconditional love of God. Although I was raised in a Christian church where I learned that Jesus had died for my sin, I was still under a strong impression that God kept a spread sheet with my name on it, and my performance as a Christian was under constant evaluation. I’m not saying that I thought I was saved by my own good works, but I felt it wouldn’t hurt.
As I listened to Brennan, I became convinced that “God loved me just as I was not as I should be”, a theme he oft repeated. It was from Brennan Manning that I heard of being “seized by the power of a great affection”. He also often spoke about the “wisdom of accepted tenderness” a very freeing thought. Brennan was a brilliant, compelling author, a passionate speaker, a ragamuffin who struggled with alcoholism most of his life and a man who was convinced that the “Father (God) was fond of him”.
Last Fall at a pastor’s gathering, we were asked to remember our process of being discipled. I realized that some of the biggest influences in my Christian life were people I had never met like Brennan Manning. But one day I almost met him…
My friend (who introduced me to Brennan Manning) and his wife were at a conference where Brennan Manning was the speaker. My friend’s wife wanted to tell Brennan how much his ministry had meant to her, so she approached him and tried to tell him that. His response was less than satisfactory to her. Perhaps it was Brennan’s insecurity; perhaps he was tired from a lot of traveling and speaking, or maybe he was having a bad day. That story was in the back of my mind when I saw Brennan at a conference where he was speaking in Rutland, Vermont. We were both in the lobby of the ball room where the session was held about ten feet away from each other. I looked at him, and he looked at me, but I didn’t want to be disappointed, so I turned and walked away. Maybe I left him wondering why I didn’t fawn over him – probably not.
When I heard that my hero in the faith, who I almost met, had died, I was so happy for him. All of his struggles in this life are over. He is with Jesus who he loved so much and who he knew loved him too. When people die, we often say “rest in peace”, but I don’t think Brennan is resting, I think he’s dancing with Jesus. Thank you, Brennan, for teaching me so much about God’s love. Next time I see you, I’ll introduce myself.