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I didn’t plan to be sipping on orange juice, cranberry, and vodka while smoking a Macanudo (cigar) and reading Brennan Manning’s “All is Grace”.  I didn’t plan it this way.
Really.

I didn’t plan to be doing all of this while enjoying a 50-degree sunset from Lookout Mountain on the eve of New Year’s Eve.
I didn’t plan it this way.
Really.

I didn’t plan to meet Jesus out here.  Not this early.  We just arrived.  Vacation has barely begun.  But she is scrapbooking and Jesus, the Macanudo, and the cocktail were calling my name.  I didn’t plan it this way.
Really.

I didn’t plan to have my Granddaddy’s old “Companion Bible” out here with me.  But somehow, this all fits together.  This jigsaw puzzle would make some cringe, but as the right side of my face curls up into a crooked little smile, I take in a deep breath, exhale some good smellin’ smoke, and watch the clouds turn from orange to red to a blazing magenta.  I didn’t plan for my drink and the sunset to match.
Really.

I didn’t plan for Jesus to meet me a few years back, in a little coffee shop inside our church.  He was dressed like Benjamin Norris House, Sr. (the previous owner of that old “Companion Bible”).  Jesus with skin on.  Jesus, with a raggedy mustache, a three-day beard, and stains on his plaid button-down.  I didn’t plan to meet Jesus that way—that day.  I didn’t plan for Him to rescue me from my own religious persecution.  I didn’t know He cared.  I didn’t plan it this way.
Really.

I didn’t plan to be called “rebellious” and “a heretic” for being more amazed by grace than scared of a fiery Hell.  I didn’t plan to be introduced to “The Shack” or “The Ragamuffin Gospel” at my lowest point, after serving the rules for so many years.  I didn’t plan for my Granddad to challenge me, during that struggle, to find God on my own, outside my religious bubble—outside the box.  I didn’t plan to find God that way.
But I have.

His grace is sufficient.  His friendship knows no bounds.  His love doesn’t have the strings I once thought.  He loves me.  Steve Austin.  The abused, addicted, anxious perfectionist.  God—Jesus—Abba—whatever you choose to call Him—He loves me.  He’s wild about me.  And honestly, whether you get it or not—whether you agree or not—whether you even like it or not, He is madly in love with you too.
Believe me: I couldn’t have planned it this way, but it’s true.

I’m becoming more concerned with being inwardly honest, rather than outwardly polished.  The Big Man couldn’t care less about my spotless exterior.  And sadly, a few of you reading this are more concerned with the fact that I started this conversation mentioning liquor and a stogie than about the unconditional love of the Savior of the World.

The sun is no longer visible.  Just a magenta haze, peeking over the horizon.  My glass has only 1/3 remaining, and my wife is ready to chow down at the Wildflower Café.
I didn’t plan it this way, but I like it.

Be honest or die,
Steve Austin

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Steve Austin is the creator of http://www.theatticonline.com plus the host of“The ATTIC” on Revocation Radio in Birmingham, Alabama.  You can check out the show Wednesdays and Fridays, 7pm-midnight Central at http://www.myrevradio.com 

Steve believes in second chances.  He is in love with a woman who’s so much better than he could ever hope to be.  He is Daddy to the coolest little boy on the planet.  He loves dreamers and is addicted to black coffee.

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