Brennan Manning, Your Words Changed My Life
God still loves me? Even after all I’ve done?
I held a book with the words The Ragamuffin Gospel printed across the front. That truth that God still loved me wrecked me in college. Growing up in the South, I’d heard about God’s love from my parents, from pastors, on street corners, and even in carpool and on my soccer team. But along with those messages of God’s love, came messages about not drinking, not swearing, not having sex, praying, telling people about Jesus—messages that sent me on a legalistic path.
I was ‘good’, for a little while. I followed, for a short time—until I didn’t.
I wanted to have fun. I was mad at God for the bad things that happened. So I stopped following ‘the rules’.
But after a while, as some of you know, not following the rules and running from God proved incredibly empty. It wasn’t really fun after all. I wanted back in. And after all the parties and dates and ‘living it up’, I desperately needed to know that I was still ok. That God still loved me. And that’s exactly what I found with Manning’s words.
As a tribute to Brennan Manning’s life, I’d like to share one of my favorite passages from The Ragamuffin Gospel :
“Because salvation is by grace through faith, I believe that among the countless number of people standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands (Revelation 7:9), I shall see the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son. I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives; the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions; the insecure clergymen addicted to being liked, who never challenged people from his pulpit and longed for unconditional love; the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last ‘trick’, whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school; the deathbed convert who for decades had his cake and ate it, broke every law of God and man, wallowed in lust, and raped the earth.
‘But how?’ we ask.
Then the voice says, ‘They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’
There they are. There we are–the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life’s tribulations, but through it all clung to the faith.
My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace.”
Brennan—you will be missed. When I told my husband you’d passed away, he said “how exciting!” He reminded me that you are finally whole, no longer ridden with struggles, and face to face with your Savior. I wish I could have seen Jesus say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
I will continue to remember grace and remember the calling on my life. As you said in The Furious Longing of God:
“The question is not can we heal? The question, the only question is will we let the healing power of the risen Jesus flow through us to reach and touch others, so that they may dream and fight and bear and run where the brave may not go?”
Your words changed my life.
If you liked this post, you may also like:
- Good People Don’t Go to Heaven
- Is God like the Men who Have Hurt Me?
- Will You Forgive Me?
- Do you really think you’re that important?