I got all emotional in the car this morning. I guess indirectly I blame my friend Lindsay. She suggest I read Brennan Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel. I wasn’t going to because, well, the title sounds stupid. Anyway, I’m about halfway through it and I’d say its decent. There are some places where I think Manning is brilliant and the writing is beautiful. There are others where it feels like a chore to read it seems like an exercise in the obvious. On the surface, I’d say the book is average at best. The only problem with that review would be that I feel different. I’m not sure how to describe it, something about it is working on me. Its slow and subtle, but its working. Something is changing.
I’m more aware of my brokenness - constantly aware of how full of shit I am, and somehow I’m more comfortable. I think I’m, for the first time in a real long time, able to live - at least for brief moments - in the truth of who I am in Christ. Able to accept that he really does love and accept me for who I am - with all my shit. I’ll write more on this when I finish the book, for now its enough to know I’m softening.
In the car on the way to church today the daughter and I were listening to a CD my mom just got her. It was a silly little song about Daniel in the Lions den that got me. I’ve been in the lions den. In a place so black and terrifying you don’t how you’ll survive. In the dark - alone with lions. Today God asked me to tell him when I was hurt and in what way. How was I ever in any real danger? The den is dark and terrifying, the kind of darkness and fear that hurts. Anger and fear and hopeless hurt a person - they change you. I felt harmed - I felt devoured. I was not. God had shut the lions’ mouths tight. The fear and hopelessness that controlled and damaged me for so long was a function of my faith - or lack thereof. The den was never dangerous, I just couldn’t believe it wasn’t. God was there in the blackness whispering, “trust me, find me, I am shelter, I am protection.” I was too afraid to move, like Peter sinking in the sea, I took my eyes off Jesus. Thankfully, in my faithlessness Jesus remained faithful. I was a afraid I rejected to truth he gave us in his word, I wouldn’t believe he is big enough to save me from anything. A den of lions - like stormy seas and fiery furnaces - is overwhelming. I go back to the question from my last blog, “How big do you think God is?”
He can save from lions, calm raging seas, and walk you through fire unburned. He is in the business of saving. Giants and floods - invasion and slavery God saves. He pursues and rescues. Unemployment - Addiction - Divorce - Depression, God is bigger than your circumstance. He went to the cross and defeated death itself. I know it feels like you’re chin deep in your own shit. I know you feel unlovable and afraid. I do too. God is not motivated by our filth. He is motivated by his love. Love that is unconditional. Love that rescues. Love that will not stop. Love that has already washed you clean.