I finished reading The Ragamuffin Gospel, my nonfiction book for March, this morning. It was a library book, so I wasn't able to mark the crap out of it, and I wish I had been reading with someone to talk about it as I went along. Here are a few thoughts I really enjoyed.
"In essence, there is only one thing God asks of us - that we be men and women of prayer, people who live close to God, people for whom God is everything and for whom God is enough. That is the root of peace. We have that peace when the gracious God is all we seek. When we start seeking something beside Him, we lose it" (p. 46).
"Our sincere desire counts far more than any specific success or failure. Thus when we try to pray and cannot, or when we fail in a sincere attempt to be compassionate, God touches us tenderly in return" (p. 83).
"The noonday devil of the Christian life is the temptation to lose the inner self while preserving the shell of edifying behavior. Suddenly I discover I am ministering to AIDS victims to enhance my resume. I find I renounced ice cream for Lent to lose five excess pounds. I drop hints about the absolute priority of meditation and contemplation to creat the impression I am a man of prayer. At some unremembered moment I have lost the connection between internal purity of heart and external works of piety. In the most humiliating sense of the word, I have become a legalist" (p. 131).
"On the last day, when we arrive at the Great Cabin in the Sky, many of us will be bloodied, battered, bruised, and limping. But, by God, and by Christ, there will be a light in the window and a 'welcome home' sign on the door" (p. 187).
I am so thankful for this book. I am so thankful for this image of a ragamuffin. Sometimes I feel bad about my failures in my faith. These past few weeks were pretty difficult for me. I had a stretch of crying 4 days in a row, and for whatever reason, the language that I felt best expressed my feelings an frustrations were swear words. I never let the "f-word" fly, but I let a few others fall from my lips. Usually when I say a curse word it feels foreign, but this past week it was easy. I told some of my friends from work, people who aren't Christians, and they laughed because they understood I had gone through a hard time and that those actions were uncharacteristic for me. Yesterday I told some of my acquaintances, people who are Christians, and I got a half-hearted chuckle and a weird look. Maybe because they thought I had acted inappropriately. Maybe because they didn't understand the impulse. I don't know.
I might not be giving my acquaintances enough credit, and I might just be paranoid. I know my nearest and dearest would not have responded that way, but sometimes I feel more comfortable owning up to my identity as a Ragamuffin for Christ to my friends who don't believe than to those who do.
What I found comforting was the author's word that: "Hey, I've been there, too. And it's all a part of being a Ragamuffin. We're beat up, and bruised, but the story isn't over and our Father who loves you already sees you as beautiful."
Sometimes when I pray for people I pray that God will help form them into the person he created them to be. Maybe instead I should be praying that God will help them see that they already are the person he created them to be. He's told me who I am. I just need to hear that word and live like it is true. I am Abba's Ragamuffin.