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Hopefully the name of this blog speaks for itself. I envision it being one of humor, exhortation, random musings, theological discussion, sports, and things that impact my life and could bless yours. Sometimes it might be a verse or a funny story, a sports score that has me up in arms or a profound truth that has hit me. I pray you find your visit here blessing your heart.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Ruthless Trust

RUTHLESS TRUST by Brennan Manning

Are you in a point in your life where things are pretty comfortable? No major crises… no health issues… economy is tough but seems like you’re gonna make it ok… kids have settled into second semester of school. It’s comfortable. You’re comfortable.

This book will disturb you and your comfort. It will not let you sit back, relax and enjoy it. It will not tickle your ears and it will not paint pretty pictures. This is not a package held together by a perfectly tied grosgrain ribbon.

At Christmastime, it might look like one of those packages that’s been wrapped by your 4-year-old - paper not fully covering the gift inside, excessive tape everywhere, edges that just don't match up. There is a string tying it together but you know that the thing that bonds the package to the gift inside is love. It’s your favorite present, isn’t it?

That's what this book is.

Lest Manning think I am insulting him in any way, I most definitely am not. I find myself a bit of a mess after reading this text, kind of like that present wrapped by my sweet little niece, Scarlett Paige, at Christmas. In opening myself up to the honesty found on each page, I sense the “order” I have worked so hard to attain where every emotion has a place and each customary act or tradition has a time and place, is coming apart. It is scary but it is freeing. In allowing myself to become this mess, there is a beauty in which the Lord can create. It's a timeless wonder how God allows shards of truth turn us into slivers of our human selves and then recreates a different kind of beauty, though not as "perfect", as scars will surely tell the story, but stronger, more dependable, more useful as well becoming more pliable in the Hands that truly mold us.

The author’s words, "impoverished imagination" fight to keep us “alive and well" albeit sedated to the awe-inspiring, Almighty, Omnipotent, Incorruptible God. I have a box for Him. I bet you do, too. To be fair, the box is very, very big so He can do all the things in which I want Him to do, but the box, of course, fits within the constraints of my own impoverished imagination. I am totally fine with having Him join me in the place that I have carved out for Him. Plus, it would seem that this is where He would feel most comfortable, of course, in my opinion. I think it begs the following questions....

What if He is not comfortable or complacent enough to just stay in our box? What do we do with Him when He spills over the top, busts out the seams and oozes out the bottom? What do you do with the part of Him that doesn't fit in that box? Well, this brings up all kinds of “uncomfortableness”, now doesn’t it? How do you deal when God doesn’t answer your request the way you’ve asked? How do you deal with waiting … and then waiting some more for Him to move? How do you deal with the necessary choices – most of them no good? The unexplained scenarios? The unexpected occurrences? The unanswered questions? The most agonizing of all - unheard cries for help? When you are bumped out of your comfort zone, what secret part of you is exposed? What do you do when He has exposed you for who you really are, not who you proclaim to be?

These inconsistencies become stones along our journey … stones with the weight of hypocrisy, fear, ingratitude, unbelief, pride… They are not insignificant and neither are they moving. These rocks in our pathway are to be dealt with. Sure, we can initially avoid the stones by walking around, stepping over, or standing on top of, or even moving them to the side of the path. Be assured, the stones put in your path are not there by accident. They were purposefully chosen for you and they are yours to deal with. Some of these rocks look like pride masked in poor self-image, a steady focus on our relationship with God rather than God Himself, "moralism and its step-child, legalism", our sense of entitlement that infers we get to describe who God is rather than His Son, Jesus, to name a few. Friends, these are not small pebbles that annoy us as we walk. These are major road blocks that keep up from getting where we need to go. These are stones on which we should admit our ignorance and arrogance and apathy and build an alter right in the middle of the path.

Once we've purged our soul of maladies that threaten to envelope us individually as well as corporately, we must replace that void with something else. This is where Ruthless Trust comes in. "Trust does not demand explanations but turns to the One who promised, 'I will not leave you as orphans' (John 14:18)" (95). Do you demand explanations of how, when, where and why before you are willing to trust?

This trust requires sacrifice of the most debilitating kind, humanly speaking. In God’s eyes, this trust is the most healing. It means death to self and complete betrayal of who I am in favor of who He created me to be. The honesty it takes to expose the discrepancy between the two “ME’s” is a necessity. Manning states, "Raw honesty with Jesus about our doubts and anxieties, our lust and laziness, our shabby prayer life and stale religiosity, our mixed motives and divided hearts is the risk we take in the certainty of being acceptable and accepted. It is the full and mature expression of invincible trust." (103). There are no orphans of God. He will not leave you there undone but will consecrate you to Him in a bond that cannot be broken.

He requires ruthless trust. "Ruthless" means without pity. This trust is not martyrdom. This trust is "not an abstraction but a concrete visible, and formidable reality. It gives definition to our lives, reveals what is life-giving within us, shapes the decisions we make and the words that we speak, prods our consciousness, nurtures our spirit, impacts our interaction with others, sustains our will-to-meaning in life, and gives flesh and bone to our way of being in the world." (166)

This book wreaked some havoc into my soul as I read his honesty word by word. It speaks of one man's struggle to admit the very thing he is trying to protect isn't himself but the imposter of himself He has spent years trying to create. The Christian calling and subsequent walk isn't encapsulated to one part of you. It metastasizes into every area of your life. The irony is that we try and fight the very Cure for our own souls by spiritual posturing and pleading for worldly approval.

We are ruthless anyways…

....ruthlessly trust in the One
ruthlessly beaten, pierced, hung and glorified for you.