The lives of those fully engaged in the human struggle will be riddled with bullet holes. Whatever happened in the life of Jesus is in some way going to happen to us. Wounds are necessary. The soul has to be wounded as well as the body. To think that the natural and proper state is to be without wounds is an illusion. Those who wear bulletproof vests protecting themselves from failure, shipwreck, and heartbreak will never know what love is. The unwounded life bears no resemblance to the Rabbi. Thomas Moore adds this insight: “our depressions, jealousness, narcissism, and failures are not at odds with the spiritual life. Indeed, they are essential to it. When tended, they prevent the spirit from zooming off into the ozone of perfectionism and spiritual pride.” Brennan Manning, Chapter Nine
Oh God, how I didn’t want to read and embrace these quotes today.
Being ‘the beloved’ of God is so rich and sweet. So comforting. So healing. So peaceful.
And then, just as this astounding truth of being Abba’s Child begins to settle into my once resistant heart, this jarring message comes to shake me out of my dream that this life might be lived without suffering and pain.
Wounds are necessary…The unwounded life bears no resemblance to the Rabbi…Those who wear bulletproof vests protecting themselves from failure, shipwreck, and heartbreak will never know what love is.
The paradox is striking, isn’t it?
As I see it, the warmth and acceptance of being held safely in the arms of God, knowing deep within, that I’m, indeed, a beloved child of Abba, is at the core of ‘knowing what love is’. Yet isn’t it both intriguing and troubling to know that this unique love of Abba is best experienced when you and I are in the midst of life’s failures, shipwrecks, and heartbreaks?
On one hand, I want to shake my fist at God and tell Him off for creating a world where pain and suffering seems to be a necessary ingredient in finding and experiencing the deepest love of God. But then, wait…
I remember that ‘in the beginning’ God wanted a different world than the one you and I presently live in. In Genesis, God created a world where the loving embrace of His arms was with us 24-7. We were invited to stay in His garden, stewarding His creation, taking our cues in leadership from our loving Father, the Master Gardener.
But no. Remember the story?
Adam & Eve, our great, great, great forerunners acted just like we do. They knew better than God. They believed that they could run the family business better than Daddy could. They intentionally chose again and again to sneak outside the boundaries of love, pushing the limits and stretching the rules. It was their decision to have a world that would be contaminated with pain, toil, and heartbreak, not God’s.
So, here I am, all these millenniums later, wondering why in the world a loving God would allow a world so full of pain and suffering, using things like my failures, shipwrecks and heartbreaks to serve as convincing motivators driving me back into the loving arms of my Father.
Maybe, I’m just looking at this picture upside down? Maybe I just need to flip the chart over?
Oh wait. It’s becoming clearer now.
Maybe our God, who knows all things better than we do, is up to something very good here?
Maybe this loving God of ours, who has the ability to snatch victory out of the hands of a losing effort, is doing just that?
Maybe Abba took our doomed destinies of failure, shipwrecks and heartbreaks and reversed the curse? Rather than pain and suffering being used to defeat us, God has redeemed these bad boys to become agents of His amazing grace? Maybe Satan has no idea what he’s doing? Maybe our wiser God has taken the devil’s favorite tools (i.e. pain, suffering, hatred and the like) and twisted these evil agents in such a way that what was once meant for our destruction has now become an unlikely agent pushing us head-first into His unending love?
Maybe. Just maybe. God, our Loving Father, is bigger and much stronger than we first thought? Could it be that this confounded crap in my life could very well be the most efficient and effective way for God to bring me, His long-lost son, back home to His Garden of Love?
My prayer: Lord, I don’t think it’s necessary for me to thank You for failures, shipwrecks and heartbreaks, but I can say how truly thankful I am that You, My Loving Father, can overcome these hellish problems, using them as agents, stirring me to run back into Your loving arms. If we had it to do all over again, I’d prefer a different way, but since Adam & Eve and I have continually resisted You when things are going well for us, I guess it only fair to say ‘thank You’ for using the by-products of my rebellion as tools for my healing. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: How have I tried to my live wearing a bulletproof vest, built to protect me from failure, shipwreck, and heartbreak, but unfortunately also keeping my heart guarded from receiving God’s love? What risks do I need to take right now in removing the bulletproof shield around my heart, making my life both more vulnerable to pain yet also more touchable by Abba’s 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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