Up till this point I have mainly been focusing on describing my experiences in life since Grad school at Baylor. But now I want to shift gears to focus a little more on books I have been reading, ideas I have been exploring, and how my beliefs have been evolving. Sometimes I will go back and revisit my past. And I will continue to write about my experiences and journey in the present, it will just be in conjunction with this other focus. The experiences I have shared so far play a vital role in understanding how my mind has come to think and consider these things. I hope the connections will be apparent to you.
When my mentor and I started the Bible study we decided to read a book called The Importance of Being Foolish by Brennan Manning. https://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/book-reviews/view/9891/the-importance-of-being-foolish. I will share my personal review.
I liked the title right off the bat. It made me think of how Jesus came to flip worldly wisdom upside down. Humility is strength, forgiveness is powerful, the last shall be first in heaven, etc. The wisdom of God is foolish to this earth, but life on earth is temporary. Life after this is eternal.
The book is by Brennan Manning, a former alcoholic. After his recovery, Manning spent two years with a Christian community living among the poor, contemplating Jesus, and doing manual labor. Manning contrasts the values and pleasures of the world with the compulsion of love.
While I enjoyed some wise reflections from Manning, I found that his expression of constant emotional exuberance towards God and his exhortation that Christians feel the same a little annoying. I understand that feelings of Love is apart of relationship, but I also know these feelings are not always present. Love in a relationship is not just a feeling, but a commitment to the relationship whether one is feeling Love towards the other person or not.
I have often observed new Christians in this sort of honeymoon phase, especially if their life was particularly hard before their conversion (such as an alcoholic). They have a lot of enthusiasm and love feeling towards God. As they age this settles down, just like it does in any other relationship.
Now, I think that it is bad to let romance and love feelings die down in a relationship. New Christians can remind us of these positive things. However, I think its important not to feel guilty if one is in a dry spell in their feelings towards God. What is important is to keep pursuing him. The feelings will come back when the time is right. I believe that God sometimes chooses to take away these feelings to grow our faith and strength of our relationship with him.
One last thought is that “Our life is hidden in Christ” (Colossians 3:3). Everyone’s relationship and journey with God will look different and only God truly knows what it should look like. Seek him first of all, and then ask others for spiritual advice. If what they say lines up with what God is telling you great! If not, view it as their personal experience and opinions.