At some profound moment in my reading of The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning, a parachute opened up and saved my life.
It was late in my depression and I was half alive. And when I received as a gift this book, the end result was a sledgehammer to every column of belief I held about myself and about God. A reassembling of it all into a Sanctuary. A Haven. A Home.
I’ve read every book by Brennan, some of them more than once. It is no exaggeration to say that more than once, he has yanked me from the crumbling edge of it all.
And he directed me to another book of my childhood, one that must’ve become buried beneath the Left Behind series and the Wild at Heart and the Purpose Driven Life books that “matured” my faith. It wasn’t an explicitly Christian book, but it was a reply to a question Brennan posed to the author, his friend: What does the Love of God feel like?
“Once there was a tree and she loved a little boy.”
(Hopefully) this throws your mind back into the tragic, but beautiful story of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.
And to this day, this little book informs how I understand my relationship with Christ, although, I’d add an addendum. For many of us, the hustling for things in the world is so not about feeding the hunger of our sin nature. Or at least not the way you think about sin nature.
I believe our single greatest sin is born out of our single greatest longing. We long to be enough. I know this from personal experience. I have hustled for the love of God, bent over backwards, toed the line, done all but don the sackcloth and ashes, and what I never understood, what I know now, is that this pilgrimage of faith begins alone in the heart. On your own two feet. It begins, I’d argue, before you even pray for Jesus to come on in. It begins when you decide: I am accepted.
Jesus once said:
Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.
Carl Jung once wondered:
But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself — that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness.
When we ply open our souls like this and recklessly rally for our belovedness against the world, against our own darkness, we experience the love of God. Youth leaders may have noted that we break God’s heart when we swear or cheat or lie, but what could break his heart more than our fear of him? Than our perpetual scrapping to earn an honest gift given? Sit down with open hands. You are loved. This is Truth. And Jesus Paid it All.
Brennan Manning leaves me breathless with his open heart spilled over in his books. He wrote about one journey he took where He felt God saying: I am dying to be with you. I am dying to be with you. And though he admits it can be found nowhere in scripture, he is certain a similar word lay on the heart of Jesus as he took his final breaths.
And no matter how many times we decide he is an asshole or uncaring or Too Good For Us He forgives. He understands. He waits and waits and waits. Because when all else falls, this love is unyielding.