I opened up a note from Ben, a close friend of mine, who lives in West Africa. His words and reflections from Brennan Manning inspired me so deeply, and spoke so profoundly into this moment of my life. I want to pass this treasure on "into" to you as we all prepare our hearts for Good Friday and Easter.
Good Afternoon Paul !
As I am reading a book called “The Signature of Jesus” by Brennan Manning, these words I see on the page and I am thinking of how you and I seek to lead others to discover who they have been created to become –
“Good Friday reminds us that we are not going to be helped by power, only by God’s laying aside His power for love of us. Power forces us to change; only love can move us to change. Power affects behavior; love affects the heart. And nothing on earth so moves the heart as suffering love. That is why the perfect expression of God’s love for us is the dying figure of Jesus pleading for someone to moisten his burning lips.”
To go further in his writing – he says, “In the winter of 1968, I lived in a cave in the mountains of the Zaragosa Desert in Spain. For seven months I saw no one, never heard the sound of a human voice. Hewn out of the face of the mountain, the cave towered six thousand feet above sea level. Each Sunday morning a brother from the village of Farlete below dropped off food, drinking water, and kerosene at a designated spot. Within the cave a stone partition divided the chapel on the right from the living quarters on the left. A stone slab covered with potato sacks served as a bed. The other furniture was a rugged granite desk, a wooden chair, a Sterno stove, and a kerosene lamp. On the wall of the chapel hung a three-foot crucifix. I awoke each morning at 2:00 and went into the chapel for an hour of nocturnal adoration.
On the night of December 13, during what began as a long and lonely hour of prayer, I heard in faith Jesus Christ say, “For love of you I left my Father’s side. I came to you who ran from me, fled me, who did not want to hear my name. For love of you I was covered with spit, punched, beaten, and affixed to the wood of the cross.”
These words are burned on my life. Whether I am in a state of grace or disgrace, elation or depression, that night of fire quietly burns on. I looked at the crucifix for a long time, figuratively saw the blood streaming from every pore of his body, and heard the cry of his wounds: “This isn’t a joke. It is not a laughing matter to me that I have loved you.” The longer I looked, the more I realized that no man has ever loved me and no one ever could love me as he did. I went out of the cave, stood on the precipice, and shouted into the darkness, “Jesus, are you crazy? Are you out of your mind to have loved me so much?”
I learned that night what a wise old man had told me years earlier: “Only the one who has experienced it can know what the love of Jesus Christ is. Once you have experienced it, nothing else in the world will seem more beautiful or desirable.”
Bro, you are loved without condition! Cyndi, Katie, Josiah and Stephen are loved just like you are loved! If things seem to be more than is bearable today, embrace the simple fact that Jesus lived and died and lived again so that what you possess is forever with Him!
Today matters – Live it knowing that Jesus belongs to you!
Your brother forever!