Session 9: Mike Yaconelli. A Testimony of Grace.

“Who am I?” asked Thomas Merton, and he responded, “I am one loved by Christ.” This is the foundation of the true self. The indispensible condition for developing and maintaining the awareness of our belovedness is time alone with God. There we discover that the truth of our belovedness is really true. Our identity rests in God’s relentless tenderness for us revealed in Jesus Christ. Brennan Manning, Chapter Three

Mike Yaconelli was a writer, theologian, church leader and satirist. Co-Founder of Youth Specialties, a training organization for Christian youth leaders, and The Wittenburg Door, a satirical magazine. His last book before his untimely death in 2003 was a classic on the Gospel of Grace: “Messy Spirituality”. Mike was a close friend of Brennan Manning and in the book, Abba’s Child, Brennan shares Mike’s testimony of grace. Here a long-time Christian and church leader attends a retreat on spirituality with Henri Nouwen and discovers for himself the Gospel of Grace. Enjoy his thoughts today here in my blog.

It took only a few hours of silence before I began to hear my soul speaking. It only took being alone for a short period of time for me to discover I wasn’t alone. God had been trying to shout over the noisiness of my life, and I couldn’t hear Him. But in the stillness and solitude, His whispers shouted from my soul, “Michael, I am here. I have been calling you, but you haven’t been listening. Can you hear Me, Michael? I love you. I have always loved you. And I have been waiting for you to hear Me say that to you. But you have been so busy trying to prove to yourself you are loved that you have not heard Me. I heard Him, and my slumbering soul was filled with the joy of the prodigal son. My soul was awakened by a loving Father who had been looking and waiting for me. Finally, I accepted my brokenness…I had never come to terms with that. Let me explain. I knew I was broken. I knew I was a sinner. I knew I continually disappointed God, but I could never accept that part of me. It was a part of me that embarrassed me. I continually felt the need to apologize, to run from my weaknesses, deny who I was and concentrate on what I should be. I was broken, yes, but I was continually trying to never be broken again—or at least to get to the place where I was very seldom broken…It became very clear to me that I had totally misunderstood the Christian faith. I came to see that it is in my brokenness, in my powerlessness, in my weakness that Jesus is made strong. It is in the acceptance of my lack of faith that God can give me faith. It is in the embracing of my brokenness that I can identify with other’s brokenness. It is my role to identify with other’s pain, not relieve it. Ministry is sharing, not dominating; understanding, not theologizing; caring, not fixing. What does it all mean? I don’t know…and to be quite blunt, that is the wrong question. I only know that at certain times in all of our lives, we make an adjustment in the course of our lives. This was one of those times for me. If you were to look at a map of my life, you would not be aware of any noticeable difference other than a slight change in direction. I can only tell you that it feels very different now. There is an anticipation, an electricity about God’s presence in my life that I have never experienced before. I can only tell you that for the first time in my life I can hear Jesus whisper to me every day, “Michael, I love you, You are beloved.” And for some strange reason, that seems to be enough. Mike Yaconelli

Nuff said, Mr. Yaconelli, nuff said. I concur, my friend. May we all come to the glorious Truth you found when you finally took time to listen to the voice of Your Loving Father. We are all, indeed, the Beloved of God. Case closed.

My prayer: Lord, thank You for this amazing story of amazing grace. There’s nothing better than to hear or read a living testimony of a man or woman who is being radically transformed by Your Gospel of Grace. I welcome You to write Your story of grace in my life. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: I’m struck by Mike’s words, “It became very clear to me that I had totally misunderstood the Christian faith.” This is a confession, not from an unbeliever, but from a Christian man who had been serving in Christian ministry for many years. If a key leader in the American church can make such a statement, what does that say for the ‘message’ we are preaching? What needs to change, so that God’s Gospel of Grace, the ‘message’ Mike Yaconelli bears witness to here, is our primary message, not a secondary add-on?

So what is God speaking to you today as you live as Abba’s child in the midst of His Gospel of Grace?

Over an eleven-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at God’s Gospel of Grace; Exploring the Good News of God’s Unconditional Love & Acceptance. We are using Brennan Manning’s classic book, Abba’s Child – The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging as our guide. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Gospel of Grace home page for ease of use. ENJOY!

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