The central miracle of the gospel is not the raising of Lazarus or the multiplication of the loaves or all the dramatic healing stories taken together. The miracle of the gospel is Christ, risen and glorified, who this very moment tracks us, pursues us, abides in us, and offers Himself to us as companion for the journey! God pazzo d’amore and ebro d’amore (“crazed with love” and ‘drunk with love”—Catherine of Siena) is embodied in Jesus dwelling within us.Contemplation is gazing at the unveiled glory of God in the risen glorified Christ. Contemplative prayer is above all else looking at the person of Jesus. The prayer of simple awareness means we don’t have to get anywhere because we are already there. We are simply coming into consciousness that we possess what we seek. Contemplation, defined as looking at Jesus while loving Him, leads not only to intimacy but to the transformation of the person contemplating. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous short story The Great Stone Face, a young boy stares at the face carved in granite and regularly asks tourists in town if they know the identity of the face on the mountain. No one does. Into manhood, midlife, and old age he continues to gaze on the face at every opportunity until one day a tourist passing through exclaims to the once-young boy who is now a weather-beaten old man, “You are the face on the mountain!” Contemplative awareness of the risen Jesus shapes our resemblance to Him and turns us into the persons God intended us to be. Brennan Manning, Chapter Six
The God of the Universe, the Creator-King of everything I see and everything I can’t see, has chosen, long before I was ever born, to be drunk with love, crazed with compassion, over me.
I am loved. I am liked. I am not alone.
But wait. There’s more to contemplate…
I’m not just loved by some slouch over there in the corner of the room; but, in truth, I’m unconditionally adopted and adored by the Ruling Power of the Universe. The Top Dog. The Kingpin. The Big Guy Upstairs. The Alpha and the Omega.
God, the Forever Almighty One, has chosen intentionally to look at me, love me madly, like me purposefully, enjoy my company, and spend eternity by my side.
As I see it, scandalous thoughts such as these require much more than just a passing glance, an occasional how-do-you-do.
No. These amazing facts about God and me, this Gospel of Grace, demand so much more.
So, let’s consider this…
If these magnificent thoughts about God and us are indeed true, (and we have it from the highest source of authority, Jesus of Nazareth, that they are!) then we really need to sit down and spend much more time contemplating the full ramifications of such things.
I mean this is a game-changer! This is more than good news. This is absolutely freakin’ unbelievable stuff! This is, “I’ve won the lottery!” kind of news. This is “stop the presses, we’ve got a big story!” wake-up call!
So tomorrow morning, when I get out of bed, go outside, and see a massive detailed face carved on the side of the mountain (as in Hawthorne’s Great Stone Face), this kind of thing demands that I stop everything to ponder the magnitude of such wonders. You and I must give deeper thought to the Power Source who carved this massive face on the side of our mountain. Explore and examine the meaning of such strange truths.
We must climb this mountain and study with our own hands, the width, the depth, and the height of this scandalous God-Love. Let us run our fingers over the deep cuts in the granite. Let us ponder both the craft and the crafter of such an amazing monument to Love.
And as Brennan Manning suggests; when he tells the Hawthorne story; over time, as we give our lives to contemplating the deep love of God, as displayed through the life and death and resurrection of Christ, our lives will be forever transformed. Over time, you and I will be changed into the likeness of those things we’re studying. Truths no longer just displayed on the side of a mountain, but carefully carved in the depths of our hearts, souls, and minds.
Anybody ready for a climb up the mountain? Let’s be sure to take plenty of water and snacks. This act of contemplating the present risenness of Christ just might take some time!
My prayer: Forgive me, Lord, when I take such amazing news of Your Great Love for me and stuff it off to the side of my life, giving only brief attention to it only on Sunday mornings and on occasional holy days like Christmas and Easter. Holy Spirit, breathe in me an insatiable hunger to spend the rest of my days contemplating the height, depth, and breadth of Your Love. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: Why is it that I’ve taken such unbelievably powerful news (the Gospel of Grace) and not pondered it to the depths that it demands? What has caused me to not be stirred to the very core of my soul by the beauty of God’s unconditional love and acceptance for me? How can I change my daily grind so that I allow more time for contemplating the heights, the depths, and the breadth of His amazing love?
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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