I mentioned in my 2013 Book Review List that this book changed my life. That was not hyperbole. It really did. So much so that we decided to use it for a small group at our church where we saw it change the hearts and lives of other people as well. I’m going to tell you the full story.
Back at the end of the summer or beginning of the fall, whichever way you like to view your year, we were out to lunch with a group of people from church. One of the young women there, Candace, asked if Adam had read anything by the author Brennan Manning. Adam said he had not. I knew of the author and knew he wrote The Ragamuffin Gospel but that was as far as my knowledge of Mr. Manning went. Candace said we absolutely had to read The Furious Longing of God. A friend had loaned it to her and she was deeply touched by the book. I grabbed my phone and purchased the book immediately. (I am known to do this from time to time.) I informed Adam on the way home that I had purchased the book.
It arrived 2 days later. Adam had a stack of books by his side that he was reading and said he’d get around to it. For whatever reason, I decided to go ahead and dive right in. The book immediately began speaking into my soul, but on page 81, my life was changed. The chapter is titled “Healing”. And it brought that and more to my life and those around me.
A little back story now. I had a falling out with my parents in 2010. I had not seen them for 3 years. I had not spoken to them in over 2 years. It was a rift I didn’t forsee as being able to be mended. I was taking a very protective stance on the issue to protect myself and my children from hurt. Of course I felt justified in my actions. I had forgiven them, really I had. But reconciliation was completely out of the question for me. I just didn’t see that it could ever be possible. I didn’t think the fall out could be mended. I had honestly just given up. But in August, before Candace recommended the book, my heart had begun to change. I felt weights lifting off of me and began to wonder if the passing of time could heal old wounds. I didn’t think anything could be done about it in the near future, but began to see hope for maybe some day. Until I got to page 81.
“Healing becomes the opportunity to pass off to another human what I have received from the Lord Jesus; namely His unconditional acceptance of me as I am, not as I should be.” (p.82)
“You have the power to give someone the courage to be, simply by your affirmation.” (p.94)
“The question is not can we heal? The question, the only question, is will we let the healing power of the risen Jesus flow through us to reach and touch others, so that they may dream and fight and bear and run where the brave dare not go?” (p.104)
The seed was planted. I could extend a healing hand to my parents. I could extend my hand and maybe they would be free of past hurt and anger and pain inside them. After all, the falling out was certainly not easy on any of us. I could change it. But the thoughts crept in. What if they were over it and didn’t want to be reconciled? What if nothing in their hearts had changed and we were right back where we started? What if they demanded an apology? Could I move forward without demanding an apology? Yet I felt the very strong and very real calling of God to offer my hand… to extend healing. The more I thought about it, the lighter I felt. I felt very strongly that God was telling me it would go well. I felt God telling me it would be different, they were changed and simply waiting on my healing hand. I could feel it so strongly.
Not wanting to trust myself. I finished the book quickly, knowing in my heart what I heard God saying. I knew exactly what I was being called to do. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I knew it flew straight in the face of all conventional wisdom. I knew it would make me vulnerable. But I knew where God was calling me. I tested it. I handed the book to Adam and told him he had to put everything aside and read this book right now. He wanted to know what this was about. I explained that if I was hearing God correctly, Adam would confirm it. We’d talk after he read the book. I apparently conveyed the urgency of the situation and he read it that very night. (Which is remarkable, because the Pastor can be very stubborn about setting things aside to accomplish a new thing and also can be very slow in reading a book, particularly one he wasn’t dying to read in the first place.)
Adam finished the book and we sat down. I waiting to hear what he’d say about it. He said, “Your parents…” I cried. Exactly. He asked, “How?” I said, “I don’t know.” I knew I needed to do something. I just didn’t know what. We thought about it, we talked about it, we didn’t know how to accomplish this huge thing. I knew if I let time pass, I’d be frozen in the land of not knowing what to do. So, I picked up the phone and called my dad at work. Just before I hit “call”, Adam asked, “What are you going to say?” I said, “I don’t know.” And I hit send anyway.
My dad answered the phone at his work. I said, “Hi, Dad.” He said a hello. I said, “I don’t really know what else to say. That was as far as I got.” He said, “Hi is enough!” And I cried. (And I will tell you now, I am not a crier. At all.) We caught up. I called my mom. We caught up.
Driving Emery to gymnastics, I thought, “Man, it is August. It would have been totally cool to save this for my mom’s birthday.” Then I realized it was her birthday. So after getting Emery settled in the gym, I stepped out to call again and wish her a happy birthday.
And just like that, my life changed. My children’s lives changed. My parent’s lives changed.
We’ve seen them several times in person since then and have contact on the phone and through texts and Facebook. God healed us. He healed our family. He lifted a weight I didn’t think was able to be lifted. Imogene has even told me how happy she is that God healed our family and she’s seven. It is nothing short of a miracle. Lives changed. People made whole. That is what Jesus does. He heals people. He heals us.