Last week, I hit the pause button on everything I needed to “get done”, and spent a half a day in prayer, reflection, and devotional reading. It was so hard to “shut down” and “shut out” all of the pressing distractions. Yet, God broke through my busyness and met with me in a very special way.
One book that helped me in the process was Brennan Manning’s Abba’s Child. I re-read most of book in one setting. Wow, I needed this special reminder that I am loved by God, regardless of what I do, whether or not my performance for Him or others was satisfactory or not, and regardless of what my own thoughts or feelings may be telling me. Its hard for me to really believe that God honestly loves me as I am.
A few of the ideas and word pictures that Brennan Manning used to help me get reconnected with the Love of my Father were statements like these:
· “In my experience, self hatred is the dominant malaise crippling Christians and stifling their growth in the Holy Spirit. . . . We learn to be gentle with ourselves by experiencing the intimate, heartfelt compassion of Jesus”.
· “For many years I hid from my true self through my performance in ministry. I constructed an identity through sermons, books, and storytelling. I rationalized that if the majority of Christians thought well of me, there was nothing wrong with me. The more I invested in ministerial success, the more real the imposter became”. He goes on to write about living by grace, not by performance and not as a people pleaser!
· “Define yourself radically as one Beloved by God. God’s love for you and his choice of you constitute your worth. Accept that, and let it become the most important thing in your life”.
· “My identity as Abba’s Child is not an abstraction or a tap dance into religiousity. It is the core truth of my existence. Living in the wisdom of accepted tenderness profoundly affects my perception of reality, the way I respond to people and their life situations”.
· Manning writes about the idea “present risenness, and living in the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He says, “The resurrection of Jesus must be experienced as more than just a past historical event. In other words, the resurrection needs to be experienced as present risenness”. He goes on to write, “ The present risenness of Jesus as life giving Spirit means that I can cope with anything. I am not on my own”. As Paul writes in Ephesians 1:18-19, “I pray that you may realize . . . how vast are the resources of His Spirit available to us”.
These and other powerful ideas in Manning’s classic work helped to keep my own passion for Jesus alive. I came again to discover that the Spirit of Jesus is alive in my life. I was reminded again, that while the enemy seeks to undermine the reality of being “Beloved by God”, that God is able to break through the enemy’s lies. I came to realize that while all of the work and responsibilities that hang over my head are important, there is still one thing more important, and that is staying connected with the true Source of spiritual life and power. At the end of my little half day with God, I actually broke down in tears, feeling like a needy helpless child, but a helpless child falling into the arms of a tender, loving Father. God thank you for loving me with an everlasting love. For the moment, I’m just resting in that love!
In Jesus love,
A fellow traveler