My Second Awakening
There have been times. Times when grace was so real I felt it – the tingle of feeling returning to my limbs. I remember waking my sister up in the middle of the night with my muffled sobs when I was thirteen and we shared a room. She tiptoed over to my bedside, knelt down, and asked: “What’s the matter, Rach?” I told her: “I’m just so glad Jesus loves me.” And I have spent hours over the last thirty-two years crying about God’s love. No, this is not my first awakening.
But it might be my second. Brennan Manning calls it a “second journey” when, between the ages of thirty and sixty, we ask ourselves: “Do you really accept the message that God is head over heels in love with you”? Manning says that our answer to this question demonstrates “our ability to mature and grow spiritually.” He says, “If in our hearts we really don’t believe that God loves us as we are, if we are still tainted by the lie that we can do something to make God love us more, we are rejecting the message of the cross.” (The Ragamuffin Gospel)
And I’m wondering how many days I’ve spent rejecting that message by turning my spiritual formation into a checklist, measuring the state of other people's’ souls based on the TV shows they watch, and cringing a little when my husband tweets “God Loves You,” wanting to add under my breath: “if you repent of your sins,” forgetting that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8) and that, even though he knew the rich young ruler would walk away, “Jesus, looking at him, loved him.” (Mark 10:21). Because deep down, I have a hard time believing that grace isn’t at least a little bit about performance and personal holiness.
When I feel spiritually disheveled, I see God on a string that I have let slip through my fingers. My mistakes loosen our connection. And this is my second awakening, that God hold the cords of love. That Jesus pulled the string then wrapped it permanently around the both of us. Forever. Today. Right now. I am so loved by God, who speaks tenderly to His children, saying:
“I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them. (Hosea 11:4)
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