Friday, December 21, 2012

...most attractive man I've never met.

I'd be lying if I told you I didn't think he was the most attractive man I've never met.

Because I do. 

This is a photo of my favorite male author, Brennan Manning. His words have had quite an impact on and through my life lately. 

'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 [tequila&lemonade].

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God's grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, "A saint is not someone who is good but who EXPERIENCES the goodness of God."

The gospel of grace nullifies our adulation [obsequious flattery; excessive admiration or praise - blarney] of televangelists, charismatic superstars, and local church heroes. It obliterates the two-class citizenship theory operative in many American churches. For grace proclaims the awesome truth that ALL is gift. All that is good is ours not by right but by the sheer bounty of a gracious God. While there is much we may have earned--our degree and our salary, our home and garden, a Miller Lite and a good night's sleep--all this is possible ONLY because we have been given SO much: LIFE itself, eyes to see and hands to touch, a mind to shape ideas, and a heart to beat with love. We have been given God in our souls and Christ in our flesh. 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. Even our fidelity is a gift, "If we but turn to God," said St. Augustine, "that itself is a gift of God."

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: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out) with a couple extra notes and emphasizations.

Knowing that the man in that picture wrote those words makes you reconsider not thinking he was the most attractive man you've never met too, don't they? Isn't it crazy how we over look one's true self for so many other things, even good things... can distract us from really knowing someone and what they stand for. 

That's not actually what I wanted to share though. Just a sidenote.

I wanted to share with you how God's used this man's words through my life recently. This book, The Ragamuffin's Gospel, has always stood out to me. It's of highest quality, utmost truth, and has a raw authenticity that is hard to not identify with. As a result of how my heart responded to this book, I wanted to share it with others. 

So, I sent it to my friend in jail. His response has been so beautiful. He said there are many things in this book that he feels in his heart and has learned recently that are reinforced in this text; particularly God's infinite Love. How cool is that? :)

I posted that excerpt above on facebook. People were encouraged by the reminder of the beauty of grace and shared that with me publicly and privately as well. Manning has intricately woven the good news of God's love and Jesus' outpouring of His love on every single page of that book. I am reminded by my friends and family's response how much our world needs the HOPE of our Savior. This isn't anything new, it's not anything I didn't know before, but it's taken brief moments of me being intentional with very small steps where I trample my pride and reach out to those I expect to be ridiculed by because God loves them just as He loves me. 

And, in the whole big picture... isn't that more most important?

I guess to wrap this up, there were a handful of things I wanted to share:

  • God loves you more than you'll ever imagine or be able to comprehend, even though you have done nothing to deserve it and more than likely a lot of things to make you not deserve it ( case you were wondering, everything I'm writing here, is directed toward me too... I am just as guilty, if not more.)
  • Brennan Manning is an incredible author with the ability to connect with the reader in a very real way that communicates God's all consuming love for His creation, and I strongly suggest you pick up one of his books to experience these truths for yourself.
  • By pushing your natural, humanly desires and instincts to the side (pride, fear, laziness... to name a few) you can impact someone's life for GOOD, for eternity. By being obedient to the calling God's Spirit leads you to, He will work wonderful things in and through you. (That's a whole different entry in and of itself!)