Whoo-Thank goodness yesterday’s crazy Friday the Thirteenth AND full moon are both over… I don’t believe in those things actually affecting life, but yesterday was an absolutely insane day for me, emotionally. But that can be a different post; today I don’t want to dwell on yesterday’s sad moments. Today, I want to share a book I’ve been reading lately.
You may know by now, but one of my jobs is working as a Barista at a local Starbucks. One particularly long day (I had come in early to help with coverage, and stayed through my shift, and it was a busy busy day), a group of three older (not elderly, just not necessarily young, either) people came in; one adorable couple and one man. Working at the cash register, I get to meet a lot of interesting people, so of course, when this group came to the front of the line, they were CHATTY! Both men were pulling pranks on the other, buying drinks and then changing orders, typical goofiness, really. Being deaf didn’t help me much, since my Cochlear Implant can’t make mumblers talk more clearly…
I thought I was going to be annoyed, honestly.
Boy was I wrong! Turns out, both men are pastors and best friends who’ve known each other for YEARS. The lady with them was just as tight. Their friendship was so much fun to witness, and then after a while, one of the men comes back up to the register (once I’m less busy, thankfully!) and asks if I’m a Christian. I responded that, yes, I am a Christian, and he proceeds to turn to his friend and yell, “I told you so!” Pretty sure my eyebrows hit the roof. He turns back to me and said, “I just knew it… you seem so happy, so joyful.” I couldn’t talk to him much then, but I thanked him, and was humbled to realize that people are watching all the time. I was also honored that my happiness–definitely a God-given joy from within, ’cause Lord knows I wouldn’t be happy of my own accord sometimes–was a glowing light recognized by a fellow Christian.
After my shift ended that day, the group was still sitting at their table, talking and visiting with each other. As per their request, I joined them, and we talked for another forty five minutes or so. They asked about my art, pored over my site’s images, and tried to convince me to move to Hilton Head Island in SC to work at their church. They almost got me, too… HHI is lovely!
But anyway, I digress. A week or so later, I received this book in the mail; one that had been recommended by one of the pastors. The title is “The Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning. I was so touched that he had thought to mail it to me, and proceeded to begin reading it immediately.
It’s a tough book; if you want to be a complacent Christian, it’s not for you. I’ll admit there were times when it was hard for me to read Brennan’s words because they hit so close to home. Ultimately, though, that’s what makes a good book; TRUTH and HONESTY even when–especially when–you don’t want it.
There are so many tidbits in this book that go down as “Golden Nuggets” in my mind, but I’ll only post a few excerpts here… you should read it for yourself, though!
“Genuine self-acceptance is not derived from the power of positive thinking, mind games, or pop psychology. It is an act of faith in the God of grace.”
“We have been given God in our souls and Christ in our flesh. We have the power to believe where others deny, to hope where others despair, to love where others hurt. This and so much more is sheer GIFT; it is not reward for our faithfulness, our generous disposition, or our heroic life of prayer…My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.”
When “we grow complacent and lead practical lives, we miss the experience of awe, reverence, and wonder. Our world is saturated with grace, and the lurking presence of God is revealed not only in spirit, but in matter–in a deer leaping across a meadow, in the flight of an eagle, in fire and water, in a rainbow after a summer storm, in a gentle doe streaking through a forest, in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, in a child licking a chocolate ice cream cone, in a woman with windblown hair. God intended for us to discover His loving presence in the world around us.”
“In faith there is movement and development. Each day something is new. To be Christian, faith has to be new–that is, alive and growing. It cannot be static, finished, settled. When Scripture, prayer, worship, ministry become routine, they are dead.”
“The biblical image of the victorious life reads more like the victorious limp. Jesus was victorious not because He never flinched, talked back, or questioned; but having flinched, talked back, and questioned, He remained faithful.”
That’s just a WEE peek into the book.. I’m going to have to read it again and mark more, journal more, and overall absorb more of this book. It’s not a quick read, and it’s not a guideline for life. Rather, it is an example of how to live a Christian life that is fully reliant on God’s grace and actively using and living out that grace. Knowing that there’s nothing I could ever do to deserve His grace or mercy, but knowing that I need to always pursue Him, rest in Him, and live for Him. Knowing that I NEED His grace and I NEED His mercy, now more than ever.
If you’ve read this book, or others that you’d like to share, I’d LOVE to hear about them. I thoroughly enjoy reading and discussing books, and am eager to continue growing in my faith, for which I need community!
Love you all!