January 9, 2008
books / spirituality
Brennan Manning is one of my favorite authors. When I was in high school, I read Ragamuffin Gospel for the first time. It changed my life. I re-read it every once in a while, teach from it, recommend it, and occasionally give it to people. It’s an amazing book. Since then, I have been amazed by this man’s words and thoughts.
Over the holiday, I was able to read Ruthless Trust, which was also written by Brennan Manning. I was lent the book some time ago, and had been unable to find the time to read it for a while.
Sometimes, when it takes me a long time to read a book it is just me being lazy. Maybe most of the time. But sometimes, I think there might be a purpose in it. This was one of those times. I needed a book like this. Right when I read it. It is another life-changing book, and it’s one that I will need to read again to really grasp the impact that its message can and should have on my life.
In essence, its message is about how a life can develop raw, authentic trust in Jesus. I was spoken to by a lot of things in this book, but I’ll provide this excerpt that especially grabbed me:
“Alas, another form of tainted trust is dishonesty with Jesus. Sometimes we harbor an unexpressed suspicion that he cannot handle all that goes on in our minds and hearts. We doubt that he can accept our hateful thoughts, cruel fantasies, and bizarre dreams. We wonder how he would deal with our primitive urges, our inflated illusions, and our exotic mental castles. The deep resistance to making ourselves so vulnerable, so naked, so totally unprotected is our implicit way of saying, ‘Jesus, I trust you, but there are limits.'”
I find it difficult to make myself vulnerable. I tend to be skeptical and cynical to a fault, and at times this extends itself to my relationship with Jesus. Things like this remind me of how important it is that I do not hide. That I examine myself, and honestly question whether I’m wearing a mask when I approach Jesus.
It’s also incredibly important that I evaluate whether I’m wearing a mask when I approach others. When followers of Jesus hide their struggles behind a mask of self-righteousness, or of hiding what is really happening, we are treating each other, and especially those who have not yet met Jesus, in a terrible way: denying them the freedom that is available to them, to become unprotected before the heart of God. We make it our message that it is not acceptable to be messed up when we come to the crucified God. That God is not interested in us unless we can wear the smiles and quote the slogans of institutional religion.
When we come to believe this, we are building walls between us and God, between us and ourselves, and between us and everyone else. Brennan Manning remains, in every book of his that I’ve read, one of the best at tearing down these walls and healing the wounds that they cause.