Obdurated seashell, a photo by WhoCaresNo1NoesMe on Flickr.
Thanks to Emily Freeman's amazing book, Grace for the Good Girl, I was introduced to the work of Brennan Manning. This remarkable man seems to have found his calling in liberating people from their self-imposed bonds of pride and legalism. In his book The Ragamuffin Gospel, he talks about God's "furious love" that pursues us at all costs. He sounds the horn of deliverance for the bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt-out, those of us who are desperately trying to live the Christian life on our own.
The other night as I was working, a phrase came to mind, one that would not go away. It lit up a warm and wonderful fire within me. "We need to be extravagant takers."
God is an extravagant giver. Every tree, shop, cup of coffee, smile, afternoon, handshake, vista, tech gadget, and true love is His gift to undeserving me and you. How do we respond to this radical generosity?
"I'm not good enough."
"I'll try to serve You better."
"Accepting that would be self-indulgent."
Imagine that you went to the trouble to create a thoughtful, personalized gift for a friend, something you knew she would love, then you put it in front of her and she said, "I don't deserve this." Not in an honest way, but in a super-holy-self-denial kind of way that comes off more like ingratitude than anything else. In fact, what if your friend just ignored the gift altogether? How would that make you feel?
I think that God is looking for extravagant takers, people who are willing to accept the miracles He dishes out with hands outstretched, taking Him at His word, and thanking Him with their lives.
In John 15:15 you can read these words of Jesus, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." How does a friend receive a gift? With immense gratitude. How can we receive more of God's extravagant blessings? Just take them.