Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Ragamuffin Gospel and The Whole of Grace

I started reading The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning late last night and it is killing me. (Dad, I know you don't like it when I say something is killing me, but it is. So to speak.) I'm only two chapters in and find myself wanting to stew over it for hours and days.

How do we ever wrap our minds fully around the bigness of God's grace? I've come a long way in recent years, but my fingertips just brush the edges.

I'm the girl who was told the right thing and mostly toed the line. How does a girl like me accept that all He wants is me?

I'm the girl who was told the right thing and snapped my eyes shut to the truth, arrogant and foolish, blazing a trail of regret and pretending to believe that I'm too free a thinker to mess with following orders. How does a girl like me grasp that His fierce love trumps the rules?

"When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer."     - Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

Ten years ago I wasn't even close to understanding grace, because I didn't fully understand my moral poverty. I was still trapped in the lie that I was "pretty good". I was a Good Girl, so mired in trying that I eventually gave up and didn't even bother to worry about it. I was a Good Girl, derailed. I'm still her.

So, God sweeps in. He makes his crazy-mad Love known to me in a million different ways and rescues me from both my self-righteousness and my depravity.

"God not only loves me as I am, but also knows me as I am. Because of this I don't need to apply spiritual cosmetics to make myself presentable to Him. I can accept ownership of my poverty and powerlessness and neediness."     - Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

Without that salvation, without the big messes and all the grace, I might not see myself in Robert's eyes. I might not know for sure that Beth and I are mostly the same.

My knees go weak at the thought of everything I might have missed and all that waits, the years of surprise and pain and hard-won love.

It starts with Grace, so that's where I want to start. And end. I want to offer grace. I want to get better at accepting it.

I don't want to completely understand it - it dazzles me in its simplicity and wonder, part-mystery and wholly mine.

It can't be parsed or weighed, but it feels worthy of my daydreams; because everything I am, every place that I go, every failure and all the lost sleep is wrapped in grace and handed to me as a gift. That changes things.

"We have the power to believe where others deny, to hope where others despair, to love where others hurt. This and so much more is sheer gift; it is not reward for our faithfulness, our generous disposition, or our heroic life of prayer...My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it." - Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel