I’ve been reading The Ragamuffin Gospel as my devotional book now for a couple of weeks. Even taking just a chapter a day, I know I will need to reread this book because there is so much to chew on in Brennan Manning’s writings. It has been a tremendous and challenging read in so many ways but very powerful for me in his consistent and dogged pursuit of communicating God’s grace. My copy is marked up significantly -everything from stories to sentences quote to short phrases that shot straight to my very soul.
I’m convinced that we must repeat over and over again the beauty and shocking truth of God’s grace – not just for those who have not heard it of it before but especially for those who have heard about it all our lives and are at great risk of taking grace for granted. How easy it is for us to sing the chorus of Amazing Grace and at the same time the words of ‘saved a wretch like me’ are falling from our lips our eyes are critiquing fashion styles and our minds are criticizing tempo speeds. We take grace for granted. We short-change grace. We water it down and tidy it up and box it in and block it out. So many things about religion rob us of the soul-shocking, mind-blowing truth of grace.
In Manning’s book, he discusses the idea of second journeys. Second journeys for the Christian, he says, usually occur between the ages of thirty and sixty and is often accompanied by a second call from the Lord Jesus. The second call invites us to serious reflection on the nature and quality of our faith in the gospel of grace, our hope in the new and not yet, and our love for God and people. The call asks, Do you really accept the message that God is head over heels in love with you? (165)
I understand better than ever that this question is at the heart of spiritual maturity and growth. As Manning says, if in our hearts we really don’t believe that God loves us as we are, if we are still tainted by the lie that we can do something to make God love us more, we are rejecting the message of the cross.
It is amazing how you can hear about something repeatedly and yet fail to truly grasp it. And then in the moments when the weight of the meaning penetrates your mind and soul, you are left breathless and in tears of gratitude. Is it not the desire of every individual to be loved this way? Yet we so ignorantly toss it aside and desperately grab at things around us to give us the sense of peace that God alone provides.
"In essence, there is only one thing God asks of us – that we be men and women of prayer, people who live close to God, people for whom God is everything and for whom God is enough." Manning (46)
My prayer tonight is that for each of us God will be our everything and that will be enough.