the writings of Sue Berger

Book Review: "Ruthless Trust" by Brennan Manning

Ruthless Trust
The Ragamuffin’s Path to God
© 2000 by Brennan Manning

Readers of Brennan Manning instantly recognize the troubled & humble spirit of a broken human being. A heart that is loath of its inherent sinfulness, yet jubilant that it can cast itself on God’s infinite mercy & grace. Manning’s exploration of trust does not disappoint the reader. Weaving stories & Bible accounts together, he shares his thoughts on faith, gratefulness & confidence.

In a society focused on possession & accomplishment, Manning challenges us to deconstruct our lives in order to trust God. So life-changing is this ultimate act of confidence (from mistrust to trust), that he views it as a “second conversion”. In accepting Jesus Christ, we must also experience self-acceptance as any self-rejection indicates a lack of trust in the total sufficiency of Jesus’ saving work. Total trust is the benchmark of accepting grace. Granted, this is a day-by-day process in which we require God’s help to sustain.

Manning explores how it is possible for God to be incredibly infinite while at the same time being so personally intimate. He discusses how the artists, mystics & clowns among us give us insight to the personality of God & challenge us to listen to the internal beat of our relationship with Him. He also challenges us to view our cracks & faults as God-given potential & purpose, rather than imperfections that God has to find uses for after the fact.

Perhaps the most inspiring aspect to me was the reminder to live in the moment. Manning explores living in the “now” and the “here” (Nowhere). As the past is behind us & we have no control over the future (even if it’s only 10 minutes from now), he challenges us to fully engage in the moment & glean every benefit from it possible. Whether it’s receiving blessing or giving to another, right now is the only life we have. God is manifest in the smallest of details if we’ll only pay attention to what’s going on around us. I’ve known people who seem to be happily content with whatever they’re doing at the time. Perhaps they’ve captured the awareness that preoccupation with yesterday or tomorrow robs us of living today to the full with all that God has to offer in it. Manning contends that being in the now also relieves us of endless (& often fruitless) self-analysis; that in the absence of self-observation, we’re freed of guilt & shame. Our focus shifts to others, to the moment, & to what God is doing around us.

Note: Don’t go haywire with this in-the-moment thing. Make that shopping list for the upcoming week’s groceries, make the doctor’s appointment & those concert ticket reservations. Calm foresight is responsible behavior. The key is being attentive to & engaged in whatever is at hand at the moment.

Ruthless trust is not an abstraction, but a concrete & visible choice & reality. It should shape our decisions, what we say & how we relate to others & to our God. Everything is possible.

– Sue Berger

Note: Permission is granted to share my material as long as my by-line, email address & copyright date remain attached.

© 2007 One Pilgrim's Musings

About Sue

From a "normal" childhood with a working dad & stay-at-home mom, to a Bible-college and borderline-cult church; now in the midst of an almost-40-year marriage to my college sweetheart and currently a massage therapist, life is interesting! Through it all, God has been patient, faithful & gracious. I'm pleased to share my life's observations with you. Enjoy!