“I celebrated my seventy-seventh birthday in April. If you asked me whether what I have done in my life defines my life, I would answer, ‘No.’ That’s not to diminish my sins or humble-bumble my successes. It is simply to affirm a grace often realized only in the winter of life. The winter is stark but also comforting. I am, and have always been, more than the sum of my deeds. Thank God.
If asked whether I have fulfilled my calling as an evangelist, I would answer, ‘No.’ That answer is not guilt-ridden or shamefaced. It is to witness to a larger truth, again more clearly seen in my later days. My calling is, and always has been, to a life filled with family and friends and alcohol* and Jesus and [ex-wife] Roslyn and notoriously good sinners.
If asked whether I am going gently into old age, I would answer, ‘No.’ That’s just plain honest. It is true that when you are old, you are often led where you would rather not go. In a wisdom that some days I admit feels foolish, God has ordained the later days of our lives to look shockingly similar to that of our earliest: as dependent children.
If asked whether I am finally letting God love me, just as I am, I would answer, ‘No, but I’m trying’.”
*Manning has always been very candid about his struggles with alcoholism.