“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion” (Brennan Manning).
When I meet Mr. Manning in heaven one day, I think I’d tell him something like this:
Thank you for teaching me about grace.
When I first started reading your books, I was very legalistic and judgmental. I looked down on others who didn’t fit my idea of a good Christian, all the while smiling at them and being nice.
Then someone told me about Ragamuffin Gospel. I don’t remember where or when exactly I first read it, but I know that started a monumental shift in my thinking about a lot of things.
Through the years, I’ve come to realize that I’m just as messed up and frail as anybody out there and that I need the grace of God every single day. I have fears and doubts and shame just like anyone else.
I’ve also been learning how to extend this amazing grace I’ve received to others. I’m learning to forgive freely. I’m learning instead of expecting others to act toward me in a certain way, to be the kind of friend that I want others to be to me.
Thank you for helping me find freedom in the knowledge that I am the Beloved of God the Father and that my Abba is very fond of me. Thank you for reminding me that nothing and no one at any time can ever or will ever change that.
Thank you for these words of yours that still wreck my world even now:
“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 (see Revelation 7:9), I shall see the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me that 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 clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the 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.
‘But how?’ we ask.
Then the voice says, ‘They have washed their robes and have 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 faith.
My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace.”