“You know when you meet someone who has come to absolute reality of the love of God,” said Brennan Manning. “You are not a ragamuffin, you are beloved of God.”
Manning’s anointed writing cemented within me the liberating concept of how deeply Abba loves me. I literally wept while reading every one of his books. “The real lovers of God are always solitary men and women. They have sheer delight in being alone with God,” wrote Manning. “When that becomes the hard truth of your existence, that nothing you can do can stop Him from loving you, that is life changing. The love of God is not a nice theory or pious … what else matters than to be loved by God? How many people really communicated to you that they really like ya? They want to improve the quality of your life by spending time with you. It’s an overflow of the love of God.”
If you consider yourself an authentic follower of Christ who powerfully impacts others with life changing Kingdom reality, you must have a personal encounter with the lightning rod of divine love. You have to stop running from God, get honest with your Maker and take a personal inventory of the spiritual condition of your life. You must take inventory of your heart by looking inside yourself and evaluating the kind of person you have become to this point. Brutal honesty is required. Look honestly at your personality, trying to see yourself from other’s vantage point. Make a list of your strengths and weakness, Record those you have injured by your actions. Take ownership of your deeds to date. Ask yourself if you were to meet God this day, would you be allowed into heaven?
Once we see our lives in the light of God’s goodness, we realize we cannot measure up in our own goodness. Stop kidding yourself that you are a good person. Surely you ARE good! But our goodness is insufficient to gain eternal life! Nothing we can do can earn me heaven for we are saved by grace, not by our works. Once we realize we are sinners in need of mercy and grace, we are in the right posture to receive the salvation promised by Jesus Christ. Ask God to forgive your transgressions against Him and other people, then allow the refreshing, cleansing grace of God to wash over you.
“Do you believe that the God of Jesus loves you beyond worthiness and unworthiness, beyond fidelity and infidelity? That He loves you in the evening sun and the morning rain? That He loves you when your intellect denies it, your emotions refuse it and your whole being rejects it? Do you believe that God loves without condition or reservation and loves you this moment as you are, and not as you should be?” -Brennan Manning, All is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir
Love is the culture of the heavenly Kingdom. A culture defined as the customary beliefs, social forms and material traits of a racial, religious or social group. If I travel to Thailand, I want to immerse myself in the culture, the language, customs and food by absorbing sounds, observing human interaction and being present there. Love is the Kings culture. He will judge His children by one measuring stick: how well did we learn to love? How well did I love, how well did I demonstrate His heart over the course of my life interactions?
“The insistence on the absolutely indiscriminate nature of compassion within the Kingdom is the dominant perspective of almost all of Jesus’ teaching. What is indiscriminate compassion? ‘Take a look at a rose. Is it possible for the rose to say, “I’ll offer my fragrance to good people and withhold it from bad people”? Or can you imagine a lamp that withholds its rays from a wicked person who seeks to walk in its light? It could do that only by ceasing to be a lamp. And observe how helplessly and indiscriminately a tree gives its shade to everyone, good and bad, young and old, high and low; to animals and humans and every living creature, even to the one who seeks to cut it down. This is the first quality of compassion – its indiscriminate character.” Anthony DeMello, The Way to Love
“What makes the Kingdom come is heartfelt compassion: a way of tenderness that knows no frontiers, no labels, no compartmentalizing, and no sectarian divisions.” ― Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging.
If we are to become a people who impact modern society with the love of God, we must first allow His love to impact us. Make a decision to allow Abba into your heart to heal your wounds. You cannot be entrusted to minister to the needs of others until your heart is in reasonably sound condition. I’m not saying that God does not use broken vessels. I am advising you to put on your own oxygen mask before attempting to help the one seated beside you. I have found that a few years of concerted effort in addressing my own wounds after a divorce was all it took for me to gain the emotional stability and inner strength to be able to retake the place of spiritual authority I held prior to that devastating event.
A Biblical Process for Emotional Healing
How do I allow God in, you may ask? How do I begin the process of emotional healing? While that is a huge topic on which entire manuals are devoted, I will tell you personally, a key was training myself to run toward God in my brokenness. “Let me see your radiant face and hear your sweet voice,” (SOS 2:14 TPT). Once we find our way up the rocky, mountainous path to the security of the cleft of the rock, Jesus can freely share His heart with us. God wants us to run to Him in our weakness, not away from Him. He asks us, “Let me see your face, _______ (insert your name here).”
Even in the midst of emotional instability, if I draw near Him just a bit by listening to worship music instead of watching television or scrolling social media, He would draw close to me. I can feel His peace wash over my soul after a few songs. Once I focus on Him while listening to the lyrics, I find myself talking to Him about whatever is on my mind at that moment. The topic is of less importance than the fact you are bringing your concerns to Him and discussing them – instead of holding them inside yourself where they can fester and become rancid. This is how we train ourselves to run to Him.
Training ourselves to run toward God in those painful, trying times are spiritual pull ups that work our spiritual arm muscles over and over, toning them. We are able to pull ourselves over that wall of opposition using the strength of the Spirit like a ninja warrior does. Rep after rep we grow in strength, agility and flexibility until we can confidently say, “I know my lover is mine and I have everything in you, for we delight ourselves in each other,” (SOS 2:16 TPT). Learning how to express our deep affection for Jesus in our moments of weakness and stumbling is how we draw and remain close to Him. We see our compromise and our need but we must also see His love as the absolute foundation of our spiritual identity. The maiden in Song of Songs knew she was a God lover. “When we struggle, we do not cease to be a genuine lover of God, nor do we cease to be beautiful to God. Our voice in worship does not become offensive to Him,” Brian Simmons, The Sacred Journey, Broadstreet Publishing, 2015.
When we feel failure and are trapped in compromise, this must be our confession. Like the maiden, our confidence will be steadfast as we say aloud, “I know you are mine and that I am yours.”
Stay tuned for the rest of this chapter in a few days … feel free to share! Just credit me as author or link back to this website. Thanks so much! This sneak peak came from my book in progress, Unpacking God, copyrighted material.