“God loves you unconditionally, as you are and not as your should be, because nobody is as they should be.”–Brennan Manning
One of my favorite books of all-time is “Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning. If anyone is stuck with a perception of a God who is less than Gracious, I encourage you to grab a copy of this book. His concept is simple:
Ragamuffin–a ragged, often disreputable person
Gospel–the message pertaining to Christ
HOW SWEET THE SOUND
“The Ragamuffin Gospel” or “The Message of Christ for Screw-ups” is one we’ve read and heard all our lives. It has proved itself true since the beginning of time. It’s the story of Adam, who wasn’t destroyed after his mishap in the Garden. It’s the story of Samson, whom God used again, even after he shared the secret of his strength with the enemy. The Ragamuffin Gospel is the message of Saul to Paul, the woman at the well, the woman caught having sex outside of marriage, and of Jonah being spit out onto dry land. It is grace for the outcast. Faith for the underdog. It’s the story of every character in the Bible, and it’s the story for you and me.
THAT SAVED A WRETCH LIKE ME
Grace isn’t just an “amazing” song that everyone knows. It is the melody of God’s heart. As many times as the tune has been tweaked or the rhythm has been altered, the message has never changed. The sweet sound of God’s grace is what has given immediate redemption and patient restoration to every soul since the dawn of time. Just as the tides come into the shallow places and later return to the deep, so is our loving God faithful to bind our wounds and put the fallen back on their feet again (Psalm 147).
I ONCE WAS LOST, BUT NOW I’M FOUND
To the wounded heart, He is a healing balm. To the addict, to the abuser, and the adulterer, He is grace. To the beggar, the drunk, and the unbeliever, He is mercy. To the gossip, the liar, the murderer, and the thief, He is unconditional love. To the preacher, the singer, the parent, and the child: to all of humanity, He is forgiveness.
WAS BLIND, BUT NOW I SEE
Maybe you can’t connect with Adam or Samson, Saul, Paul, Jonah, or the woman at the well. But the message still applies to you. I may not know your story, but I know what Grace has done for me, by finding me at my lowest and refusing to leave me at my very worst. I was sexually abused as a pre-schooler. I was a porn addict for twenty years. I don’t remember several birthdays or New Year’s Eve parties because I drank until I blacked out. I was completely wasted long before the candles were blown or the ball dropped.
I have lived the life of a wretch. I have screwed-up more than I’d like to admit, was asked to step down from ministry and nearly lost my marriage and children. I was a workaholic who did the song and dance of anyone who would tell me just how great I was. I was desperate for Grace, for Hope, for something to change my life on a core level.
I was humiliated when Grace found me in the least likely of places: the middle of the psych ward. Grace found me during an extremely scary stint in ICU. After I had given up all hope of cleaning myself up, Grace found me. Grace is a paradigm for every religious person who is sick of the masquerade. Grace is the difference for every broken-hearted person who’s had their soul squashed by the world.
We are all ragamuffins. We’ve each missed the mark. Everyone has fallen. Yet, every time the night can’t possibly get any darker, each time we feel like the fire can’t get any hotter, we can shut off the noise, aim our ears toward Heaven, and still hear, “T’was Grace that brought me safe, thus far, and Grace will lead me home.”
We are all ragamuffins, and we are all forgiven. And Grace will lead us home.