Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hooker



"The hookers and swindlers enter [Heaven] before us because they know they cannot save themselves, they cannot make themselves presentable or lovely. They risked everything on Jesus, and knowing they didn't have it all together, were not too proud to accept the handout of amazing grace." - The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning



I've done nothing but eat Mexican food and pie for 48 straight hours yet all I can think about is Brennan Manning. His words are sliding some of my thoughts into place. They're fitting the lock.

For a very long time, I've tried to do this thing or that thing, all of the stuff that other, Godlier people seemed to be doing. I've been ashamed about the way I worship, regretful that I don't read my Bible enough, disappointed in myself that my prayers aren't quite right. I never fast. I watch rated-R movies.

The inner workings of my faith have been a secret I keep, but only because others might say it's wrong, or not enough.


The truth is, in the past two years I've felt more alive and far more sure of things. I've also struggled with unforgiveness for the very first time, said some cuss words, watched Dexter, and judged Dave Ramsey. I'm more aware than ever of my unholiness, yet my faith is somehow stronger.

How do I explain that to my old college professor, who claimed that days would go unmarked by the taint of his sin? What do I say to the woman who looks me straight in the eye and says that her love for God is so big that the sins of others make her weep?

In the past two years, I've also spent time with the so-called hookers and swindlers. I've fallen in love with them, and only partly because they hold a mirror up to my buttoned-up, hidden-away cheating, lying, grimed-up heart.

There's much to be said for closing in on the sorry state of my personal affairs. Looking myself square in the mug has made Christ irresistible, His promises mandatory.

I know that God calls each one of us into a gutter, where we're sure to find people desperate in a way we hope to never be. I'm learning that the gutter is not where we go out of obligation or even sympathy.

Compassion draws us there. Love causes us to memorize the route. But the reason we go, the true reason we're called, is because it turns the wheel that turns the wheel that launches us headlong into His flaming compassion and his furious, relentless love for me.

We look past our silly sprucing up and all of our check-marked tasks and lock eyes with the brown-eyed hooker in the mirror with the flat hair and the age spots. Right then is when we know for sure that we're destitute. We're not even good enough for the welfare cheese.

Our need is massive and every split second of His provision is a gift. It's grace.

So we take it. Finally, we take it.

33 comments:

  1. FREEEEEEEEEEEEDOMMMMMMMM!!!
    I love you.
    I feel the same way. It's amazing.

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  2. Ahhh . . . this is why we are soul sisters :-)

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  3. My friend went shamefully in front of her church one Sunday...she had some stuff she needed off her chest...things she thought people and God surely were holding against her. She wanted forgiveness. Turns out...so did everyone in the room! They filed past her assuring her she was good with them, and that they wish they'd had the courage to "come clean" like she did and also thought people where holding things against them.
    My friend was shocked at the older ladies who thanked her saying they had secretly felt so much shame they'd not let go of over the years.
    We need to take the gift!!!

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  4. Have you heard Shaun Groves album, "Third World Symphony"? There is a song called "No Better" that addresses this! The whole album is fabulous!

    Love this quote... Compassion draws us there. Love causes us to memorize the route. But the reason we go, the true reason we're called, is because it turns the wheel that turns the wheel that launches us headlong into His flaming compassion and his furious, relentless love......

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  5. I've been a mere stalker reader for a couple of years...tonight I felt compelled to comment. Your post made me cry with all it's truth and I'm better for it. Thanks.
    Kelly

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  6. I love this. I'm a swindler, but instead of stealing money I steal in other ways. I hoard treasure and think my own selfish ways are right and ignore those who think differently. I gamble to get my way and to be heard and to seek attention. And yet right there in the gutter God chuckles, laughing at my assumption that I have to earn my way into heaven, and into friendships, and into my own marriage. "You are always worthy, child," he says to me as I sit there dirty and shamed, head down low. I might be tall with blond hair and a table set for a king, but inside I'm that swindler who needs Jesus to find me, there in the gutter, along with you.

    Amanda over at hillpen

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  7. On my "Count your blessings" list at Thanksgiving was this....
    "Thankful for the heartbreak of God's heart becoming ours." Meaning, as I've prayed lately, and questioned God, I've heard Him question me right back. What if I sit in my pretty house, floating away in my christian bubble and miss IT? the "it" that you also write of. So, with that said, it has caused me to look at the world differently. To see that my own pretty bubble is less pleasing to God than a broken spirit, desperate for Him.
    scattered thoughts......feeling such a call to live differently....feeling out of place among my own community at times even.

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    Replies
    1. I so get this. Girl, please go find your people. Find the ones who make you feel sort of normal again. They exist, I promise. I so understand that out-of-placeness. I still feel it sometimes, but having a few who understand really helps. xo

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  8. What a beautiful post. Thank you for continuing to post the hard stuff.

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  9. Once again your words leave me speechless. All I can say is thank you for this gift. Here I thought looking at the world all topsy-turvy meant that I had to change myself when really coming forward with my filth and grime is coming forward with my whole heart.

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  10. sacred. holy. perfect love is His supreme quality. i love that i can find that here. it is rare,and fragile.

    thank you <3

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  11. Yes. It is the letting go thing isn't it - letting go of trying to spruce up my faith, and my performance and the ticking of the boxes and just leaning in instead, and being filled, and listening and going? So simple in a way but so very hard to prise our fingers off our own life performance chart if we have learn't along the way to succeed through effort and determination. Reminds me of that old adage that the enemy of the best is often the good. I wonder sometimes if this is what Jesus mean't about being childlike? I am all too familiar with that out of step feeling too, I forget that grace can fill the gaps oftentimes. Bxx

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  12. Beautiful and truthful post. I love it. Thank you so much for pulling me outside that comfort zone. It is such an thrilling and sometimes scary place to be.

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  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  14. Holla
    I have one blog, please, follow here
    Invitación
    Yo soy brasileño, y tengo un blog, muy simple.
    Estoy lhe invitando a visitar-me, y se posible, seguimos juntos por ellos.
    Fuerza, Alegría y Amizad.
    Ven para acá, y deja un comentário, para YO, seguí en su blog con facilidad.

    Abrazos, del Brazil.


    http://www.josemariacosta.com

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  15. Beautiful, heartfelt post, that speaks to my heart. It's all about God's grace, not about us or what we can do. Without Him we are nothing.

    Thank you ~ FlowerLady

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  16. I came here from A Great and Many Things (I'm her mom) and I was wondering if I could use this post in my women's life group? It's speaking to my heart and I'm sure will reach others as well. Thanks.

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  17. I live in an entire town of great Christian people......church going, mission trip going, feeding each other people.....but......I feel like we are "feeding" ourselves....we are not "feeding" the hungry...which in most cases wind up being our own children and families because we won't let down the wall of "churchgoer". It just seems to me that we live in a pretend world that is so perfect noone wants to reveal their imperfections. Does this make any sense?

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  18. oh yes. when we can learn that we should not hold out our hands because "isn't that nice of me" or even "because i was told to" but because, we are open enough to see that their lives will teach us more about our own? i have been pulled to living life fully with the rag-muffin regime, not because on the outside i appear to fit there, but because my heart finds strength in the truth of things: of spirit, of grace, of love. i just wrote this morning at my place about finding church in a vineyard, at a concert, with atheists and believers alike. Love and grace are the whole world wide. We all fit tight in their arms.

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  19. Beautifully written, spoke volumes to me. Thank you for your words and getting right down to it. Like your advice to a previous commenter, I need to go find my people, too.

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  20. Favorite post. Ever. Thank you for being you.

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  21. This is fantastic... I am right there with you, stumbling my way home, clinging to grace, shaking my head over the crazy ways of God, this crazy love of God for sinners like me. I am the iron spike in the wrist, the thorn in the temple, the mocking spectator, the criminal, the one who deserves to die. I am a thief, a wretch. I return to old compulsions. I need Jesus to rescue me, like, daily. I need Him to love me.

    And behold... He does.

    Amazing grace. It still amazes me.

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  22. Grace. Every day we come needing Him more - needing us less.

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  23. good grief.
    i think i've read your best words, and then you go and write this.
    girl. every single dang word of this post is spot on TRUE.

    you have to know this...God has used you...your story...in my heart.
    feeling nudged...pushed really...to get out of my comfort zone.
    i wrote a year ago about a vision i have had for sometime now of a woman with a baby on her hip in my life. i can see her in my mind..i just haven't met her yet.

    here's the thing..it's been a year and i'm still sitting on my sofa writing about it in this comment.
    which is where YOU come into play. you went and wrote for a whole 31 days about GOING.
    that lady and her baby are not just going to show up on my doorstep.

    okay..i've said it. i've put it out there...now I have to DO SOMETHING.

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  24. your heart and mine are beating the same beats…i just love reading your thoughts on all of these soul stretching experiences.

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  25. I love this. Manning's words haunt me time and again in the most needful way. I have to know my own poverty of spirit. That's where it all begins. And it's the place I need to return again and again when I think I've gotten too good for the gutter.

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  26. I love every word of this. This has been a year for me of really seeing the world as fallen fallen fallen. Especially when I look in the mirror. It actually gets frightening. I think having been saved since the cradle, I thought that perfect Christian world really did exist...and I'm oddly disturbed that it doesn't. At least not the way I thought it did. I think it gave me something to work toward. But I'm more than relieved to know He is even more than I knew. He is who I should be working toward. And He is more than enough for the pre-saved and the saved, too.

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  27. Manning has a way of seeping into even the best Mexican food, eh?

    "We take it" oh, amen.
    When we see what we really are . . . and Who he really is --

    we know we have no. other. hope.

    Well said, friend.
    (and i loved the welfare cheese.:))

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  28. I lived for many years calling myself a Christian, believing in Jesus, doing my best, but sinning. I would always fall. And our Church leaders say God's grace is big enough for that. But I didn't understand why my life didn't match up with scripture like Romans 6, 1 John 3. Jesus even commands us to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. But my worldly teachers taught me that's impossible. They teach God's grace is big enough for forgiveness, but isn't really powerful enough to SET ME FREE FROM SIN. And I finally got fed up. I asked God to show me my nakeness. And he did. And guess what! God's solution for our sinful nature is DEATH, not a life long rehabilitation process. And we are born again of God's spirit and cannot sin! That is the gospel I now know! His gift of freedom is real freedom from sin, in this lifetime! And now I am free and scripture like this does not condemn me. Because THAT'S how big God's grace is. Not a powerless, impotent gospel. I am compelled to tell you this GOOD NEWS. There is real freedom from sin available to us all. Don't deny the real power of Christ to overcome the darkness in us! Don't continue to live under the law which condemns you. Enter his Sabbath, his rest. Believe.

    1 John 3:4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

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