In his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning describes how Jesus didn’t come for the pretty, pious, powerful and pithy. But instead for the “bedraggled, beat-up and burnt out” ragamuffins who desperately need His grace, which fits the description of a displaced person such as me like a tailored suit.
In my life, I have attended churches, joined churches, become a member of churches and served in churches. And in most cases, I had a constant gnawing sensation I should apologize to those kind people for plunging myself among their number. I never felt I measured up. I was ordained for teaching pastor/elder as I had/have a genuine passion for the bible and the love of studying in-depth this love letter from God. And yet I still felt I didn’t measure up. I studied theology, I discussed theology, I debated theology, I even argued theology, and I also taught theology.
I taught theology with the endeavor of boiling down the terminology to everyday street language, useful as a fragrant powder to be sprinkled into the shoes, hats, pockets, and gloves for proper practical usage in the daily walk of life. I recognize those endeavors of the deep study of theology have value in knowing God – but not all of God. Nobody can own the whole corner on the truth of God while here on earth. Especially so if knowledge and understanding is not passed on to the flock for the sake of daily use.
Checking the heart of our mindset and purpose continuously is critical to our belief system.
But to continue, the feeling that I had finally found my niche never came. I have now come to the realization, years later that I have no “niche” here at ground level. For my only niche is in the Savior, Himself. And that’s the way He likes it.
The above isn’t to say I never experienced peace. For a relationship with the Savior provides an abundance of many excellent side benefits, including the peace found in friendship. Having said this isn’t to say a relationship with Jesus gives me nothing but peace. Only the departed who are now in His presence have that. However, the best I feel is when I’m alone with Christ allowing him to sift my mind for things of discussion between Him and me, withdrawn from other people. It seems that when I’m alone, the less alone I feel. Loneliness? Yes, I experience loneliness sometimes. It’s an inescapable part of the human condition common to all of humanity. But as a poet once said, “I’d rather be alone than with just anybody.” And the danger of “just anybody” is that it could mean the Devil disguised as an Angel of Light, unawares. A bit of hyperbole, but you get my drift.
I’ll leave you with a bible verse that carries a depth of its own:
Ecclesiastes 1:3-4 “What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? Generations come, and generations go, but the earth remains forever.” (NIV)
Hmmm. So why do we so often want it all, and more of it, and our demanding way? That is a mindset sure to develop harder work with less profit and more failure, even if recognized not until the end of a lifetime, which is futility at its most bitter, in my opinion. No, I would rather have Jesus if you please. If Jesus gives us a heavy load to carry, He also gives us a hefty truck with which to haul it. Himself.