Tag Archives: Brennan Manning

A Path Into God’s Heart (Part 1): A Wild Ride


I recently heard Beth Moore say this about life with Jesus: “Do you want a wild ride of a life? It’s not a wild drive; it’s a ride…Get in the passenger seat, throw your head back, and let the wind blow through your hair.”

Author Peter Hiett writes, “If John (the Baptist) prepared the highway, Jesus rides a Harley down it and He wants you on the back.” 

Then there is this from Dorothy Sayers: ” The people responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus never accused Him of being a bore—on the contrary; they thought Him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left to later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround Him with a yawning ho-hum atmosphere of tedium. We have efficiently trimmed the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified Him ‘meek and mild,’ and recommended Him as a fitting pet for pale curates and pious old ladies.” 

Brennan Manning once shared the story about a repressed nun named Christine who rarely smiled or laughed and never danced. One day in prayer, she had a vision where she was in a ballroom: “I was sitting by myself on a wooden chair, when a man approached me, took my hand, and led me onto the floor. He held me in his arms and led me in the dance. The tempo of the music increased and we whirled faster and faster. The man’s eyes never left my face. His radiant smile covered me with warmth and delight, and a sense of acceptance. Everyone else on the floor stopped dancing. They were staring at us…I glanced at his hands and then I knew. Brilliant wounds of a battle long ago, almost like a signature carved in flesh. The music tapered to a slow, lilting melody and Jesus rocked me back and forth. As the dance ended, he pulled me close to him. Do you know what he whispered?…’Christine, I’m wild about you.”

***

Chances are, you may not have thought about Jesus in the above ways. Sometimes He allows a season in our lives that shatters our preconceived notions of Him and draws us into unparalleled intimacy with the Lover of our soul.

A little over two years ago, in His infinite wisdom and kindness, Jesus decided that it was time for my wild ride to begin.

He was determined to fully engage my heart. He was undeterred by—yet sympathetic to— my resistance, my temper tantrums, my copious tears of confusion and self-pity.

My prayers for this season to end were answered with a firm but loving, “Not yet.”

When I begged for answers, He repeatedly assured me, “I AM the answer.”

When my Type-A-loves-to-be-in-control personality thought I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and was convinced that He was about to wrap all this up in a great big glorious bow, He spoke unmistakeably and powerfully to my spirit:

“Do not presume upon Me.”

His goal was for me to know and experience Him as He truly is…not as I wish Him to be.

Without a doubt, this has been both terrifying and electrifying.

No one can experience the risen Jesus and remain unmoved and unchanged.

I will never be the same.

Through it all, He has shown me a pathway that leads directly to His heart and I would like to share that pathway with you. All of our journeys with Jesus are unique and tailor-made. He is a Person to be known, not a religion to be carefully followed. There are no “three-easy-steps to intimacy with Jesus. So, I am not sharing a blueprint…I am simply sharing what He has shown me as I have taken this journey with Him, with the hope that you will find encouragement for wherever you are in your walk of faith.

Jesus longs to give us all of Himself. But so often, our wandering hearts continually look for something else.  He intends for His followers to fully experience Him in this life, but every time we try to protect ourselves from pain and risk, we miss Him.

During this season, He  was calling me to surrender to this ride, knowing that I can trust wherever He is taking me…which ultimately is straight into His passionate heart where overflowing joy resides.

I was ready to slide over and relinquish the wheel.

It was the best decision I ever made.

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Face To Face


My family and I lived in south Florida for five years. Each December, the First Baptist Church in Ft. Lauderdale presents an Emmy-winning Broadway-caliber Christmas pageant.

One year, my friend Madora treated a group of us to a matinee as an early Christmas gift. The sanctuary seats at least 3000 and is three stories high. We had wonderful seats on the ground floor in the first row of the second section.

As the the lights dimmed and the show began, an expectant hush fell over the crowd.  The first half celebrated the holiday season with dancing, singing, and numerous set changes. After intermission, the show switched gears to tell  the story of the life of Christ, from birth to resurrection. It was an amazing production, filled with real animals (a camel, a donkey, horses), as well as flying angels and the resurrected “Jesus” being lifted several feet off the stage to depict the Ascension.

At one point, during the Palm Sunday scene, the actor playing Jesus rode right past us on a donkey, bathed in the spotlight. He waved and smiled and every eye was on him as he made his way through the sanctuary lined with palm branches and up onto the stage.

As I watched him surrounded by people, tears unexpectedly filled my eyes and I found myself telling Him, “Lord, if I had been on the earth at the same time You were, I would have wanted You to know me. I wouldn’t have wanted to be  just to a face in the crowd. I would have wanted You to know my name.”

The show ended to thunderous and sustained applause. It truly was an incredible experience and we all felt blessed at having the chance to experience something so beautiful.

Afterward, I was browsing the wall of  books in the large lobby of the church when I heard someone come up behind me. I turned around, expecting to see one of my girlfriends. However…

There, standing in front of me was the actor who had played Jesus.

He was still dressed in his white resurrection robe and his smile was warm as he reached out to take my hand.

Then he asked me my name.

It took me a second to respond but I told him.

He asked if I had enjoyed the pageant, then gave my hand a gentle squeeze before leaving, saying, “God bless you, Susan.”

Then he was gone, melting into the crowd.

I was left speechless, knowing that the real Jesus had just let me know that He had heard the cry of my heart inside that sanctuary. Out of literally thousands of people who were present that day,  that actor had approached me to ask my name of all things!

Jesus was reminding me that He does see me. He does hear me. I am not just one of the crowd to Him.

He knows my name.

Just as He knows yours.

That day was also a reminder that there is coming a day when faith will become sight and I will finally see the very Face of Love, the beautiful Face of Jesus Himself in all His resurrected glory.

Brennan Manning has written, “The true Christian is the lover separated from his Beloved; the day of reunion cannot come too soon.”

I love this definition of Christianity. I am not following a myth or a figment of my imagination. I follow and have given all that I have and am to a Person who gave His all for me and has radically changed my life.

Christianity is not a religion. When He walked this earth, Jesus directed some of His harshest words toward the religious elite of His day.

It is a relationship! A stunning, utterly transforming, passionate love story between Jesus and His Bride (Revelation 19:6-9).

After the show that night, my girlfriends and I had dinner, then browsed the charming shops along Los Olas Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale. I found a necklace that I admired and as I was trying to decide if I should buy it, one of my friends suggested that I purchase it as a reminder of the day I met “Jesus.”  I thought that was a fabulous idea and although it is not an expensive necklace, it is precious to me.

It is a reminder of a day in south Florida when the real Jesus broke through an ordinary day to give me a moment that I will always treasure…and to remind me of a glorious day yet to come.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” — I Corinthians 13:12

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