Ruthless Trust: A Ragamuffin’s Path to God
By Brennan Manning
Book Review by Julie Schofield
I have always been a lover of books. The smell, the feel of the pages, and the worlds they held captivated me at a very young age. There have been many books that impacted me, but besides the Bible, none have had the effect on my life more than Ruthless Trust: A Ragamuffin’s Path to God by Brennan Manning. Published in 2000 as a sequel to the Ragamuffin Gospel, it held what I truly needed; the answer to my struggles following Christ. Trust.
My walk with Jesus has never been a smooth one and I was under a lot of condemnation due to my continual failures. I read many books written by Christian authors, preachers, and teachers, almost in desperation, looking for answers.
One of the duties at the a public library where I worked was shelving books as they came in. As I was sorting the items on my cart the title caught my attention because I immediately thought of my mother calling my brothers and I ragamuffins when we came home filthy dirty after a long day outdoors. (It was the seventies. Sometimes she didn’t see us until dark.)
In the book’s preface Manning gives us the definition of the ragamuffins:
The unsung assembly of saved sinners who are little in their own sight, conscious of their brokenness and powerlessness before God, and who cast themselves on his mercy.
“If the Lord Jesus Christ has washed me in his own blood and forgiven all my sins,” the ragamuffin whispers to herself, “I cannot and must not refuse to forgive myself.” After stumbling and falling, the ragamuffin does not sink into despondency and endless self-recrimination, she quickly repents, offers the broken moment to the Lord, and renews her trust in the Messiah of sinners. She knows that Jesus is comfortable with broken people who remember how to love.”
I was so tired of struggling and wanted to be able to trust in Jesus so badly I had to check it out.
Brennan Manning is, like me, a flawed Christ follower. He is not coming from a place of judgment or perfection. He is open and real in his writing, exposing his own sins and letting the reader know he understands those who struggle in their walk with Jesus. He has a heart for those that haven’t grasped the grace and love of Jesus and suffer in self-loathing. The ones who wonder if they are really saved when they continue to fail time and again.
For the ragamuffin the answer is ruthless trust. He writes, “If it be your way, the sign you can trust will be the slow, steady, and miraculous transformation from self-rejection to self-acceptance rooted in the acceptance of Jesus Christ.”
Ruthless Trust was written after Manning’s spiritual leader remarked, “Brennan, you don’t need any more insights into the faith. You’ve got enough insights to last you three hundred years. The most urgent need in your life is to trust what you have received.” These words prompted a reexamination of his life, ministry and his relationship with God. He had to ask himself if he really trusted Jesus. Manning had served Christ for over forty years and after thousands of hours of prayer and meditation he states that childlike surrender in trust is the defining spirit of authentic discipleship. Then he adds that the supreme need in most of our lives is often the most overlooked, namely the need for an uncompromising trust in the love of God. While it is good to go to God as a beggar to the King of kings, it is vastly superior to approach God as a little child would approach his papa.
This book challenged me. Was I really trusting in the work Jesus did on the cross? Did I believe ALL my sins were forgiven? Did I see God as a loving Father that cared for me or someone who could never even like me? Through reading this book, I realized that I did not have the ruthless trust I needed and was crippled as a disciple of Christ. How could I tell people about the great love God had for them when I wasn’t trusting in that love myself?
Throughout the book Manning includes inspiring words written by others like Mother Teresa, Henry Nouwen, Richard Rohr, along with scripture scholars and philosophers.
More importantly he takes you on a journey through many of the verses in the Bible about trusting the Lord, of which there are many.
In the final chapter Manning writes, “Ruthless trust ultimately comes down to this: faith in the person of Jesus and hope in his promise. Ruthless trust is an unerring sense, way deep down that beneath the surface agitation, boredom, and insecurities of life, it’s gonna be alright. Ill winds may blow, more character defects may surface, sickness may visit, and friends will surely die, but a stubborn, irrefutable certainty persists that God is with us and loves us in our struggle to be faithful.”
I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it to anyone that struggles to trust. Reading It was a turning point in my understanding of God’s love for me. I have a lightness and joy that was missing when I allowed condemnation to rule me. I can’t honestly say that I never succumb to those feelings but now I have the answer. I go to my papa. Ruthless trust in his love has changed my life!