Have you ever read a book that did not really grab your attention initially, only to pick it up later and have an entirely different perspective of the book? That was my experience with Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning. I actually read this book several years ago. I enjoyed it, but it was not one of my favorites by Manning. (Abba’s Child was perhaps one of the books that have had the greatest influence on me!) But recent circumstances prompted me to read it again and it turned out to be exactly what my soul needed to hear.
Manning calls the act of trusting in the love of God the second conversion. Many may accept God’s gift of grace, but then live out their Christian lives never fully understanding what it means to trust God with their whole being. One reason for this is a loss of God’s transcendence:
The loss of a sense of transcendence among today’s believers has caused incalculable harm to Christian spirituality and to the interior life of individual Christians.
Busyness, stress, fear, and image management all contribute to this loss of transcendence.
On a personal level, the last six months have brought much change, stress, and transition to my life. From buying a house to moving to a new city to unexpected expenses to unplanned life events, I found myself just trying to keep my head above water and get through all the transition. But I also discovered just how little I trusted God. Trust is easy when life is going well; difficult times will reveal just how much we actually believe that God loves us, hears our prayers, and is shaping us through our circumstances for our betterment.
Hence, the prompting for me to re-read this book.
Through short, easy-to-read chapters, Manning describes the many-faceted aspects of trust. Some of the more poignant aspects that I needed to be reminded of included:
- “The foremost quality of a trusting disciple is gratefulness.” Gratitude is accepting the invitation to celebrate life one day at a time. This includes all that life throws at us, whether good or bad. When we live in a state of stress and anxiety over our circumstances, we will certainly experience a loss of gratitude.
- “Trust cannot be self-generated.” We cannot determine within ourselves to trust God more with additional effort. The paradox is that the harder I try to trust, the more I am actually relying on myself and less on God. Trust develops when I allow myself to be loved by God completely, releasing the need to be in control of my circumstances.
- To be fully present to whoever or whatever is immediately before us is an act of radical trust. Worrying about the present and past, endless self-analysis, and constant planning of our future all rob us of the ability to be fully present in each moment.
These, and many more points, served as timely reminders of what I had evidently lost sight of. Trusting God is an act of surrender – surrendering control of outcomes, future plans, agendas, and expectations. It is a daily act that allows us to meet God in each and every circumstance, knowing that no matter what the outcome, we are loved and valued by the Creator.