The Dick Staub Interview
Brennan Manning on Ruthless Trust
What is a ragamuffin?
Well, there's a beautiful scene in the Old Testament about the Anawim. In the eighth century, they're the poor, the homeless, landless, and God will one day restore their prosperity. But in the sixth century the Anawim took on a meaning of tremendous spiritual depth. The Anawim were the poor in spirit who had an unwavering trust in God and committed themselves entirely to doing his will.
Now, when the Anawim theme comes into the New Testament, the Anawim are those who gather to meet Jesus at his birth. They're the poor ones, the nobodies, the people on the margin of respectability. They're the shepherds. There's Anna, this old lady at 84 years old. There's Simeon, an old man. And all these animals. And then, of course, there's the Virgin Mary, who was considered the last and lowliest in a long line. Those are the ones who are truly poor in spirit. They acknowledge their utter dependence on God even for their next breath, have just cast their lot with Jesus, and surrendered to the Father's will. And that's basically what a ragamuffin is.
What is premise of this book about trust?
The basic idea is in one sentence: The splendor of a human heart that trusts and is loved unconditionally gives God more pleasure than Westminster Cathedral, the Sistine Chapel, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Van Gogh's Sunflowers, the sight of 10,000 butterflies in flight, or the scent of a million orchids in bloom. Trust is our gift back to God, and he finds it so enchanting that Jesus died for love of it.
It's what Jesus said we need to bring into the relationship.
Yes. Childlike surrender and trust, I believe, is the defining spirit of authentic discipleship. The supreme need in most of our lives is often the most overlooked: an unfaltering trust in the love of God no matter what goes down. I think this is what Paul taught when he wrote in Philippians 4:13, "There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the one that gives me strength."
But how do we know if we're really trusting? Most people would say they trust God.
The dominant characteristic of an authentic spiritual life is the gratitude that flows from trust—not only for all the gifts that I receive from God, but gratitude for all the suffering. Because in that purifying experience, suffering has often been the shortest path to intimacy with God.
I'd also add that biblical trust grows out of love. My trust in God flows out of the experience of his loving me, day in and day out, whether the day is stormy or fair, whether I'm sick or in good health, whether I'm in a state of grace or disgrace. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.
In John 17:26, Jesus says, "Father, I have made your name known. I continue to make it known. And I pray that the same love with which you love me may be in them and I in them." The very same love that the Abba has for Jesus is the same love he has for us when he's in our hearts. The problem is most of us aren't aware of it.
So part of this is an attention problem?
I believe that the real difference in the American church is not between conservatives and liberals, fundamentalists and charismatics, nor between Republicans and Democrats. The real difference is between the aware and the unaware.
When somebody is aware of that love, the same love that the Father has for Jesus, that person is just spontaneously grateful. Cries of thankfulness become the dominant characteristic of the interior life, and the byproduct of gratitude is joy. We're not joyful and then become grateful, we're grateful and that makes us joyful.
The Dick Staub Interview
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