“Never confuse your perception of yourself with the mystery that you are truly accepted” – Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
Ragamuffin- rag·ga·muf·fin (răg′ə-mŭf′ĭn)
A ragged, disreputable person; tatterdemalion, A shabbily clothed, dirty child. A child in ragged, ill-fitting dirty clothes
Hello. My name is Gbemisola, and I’m a ragamuffin. Beat up and tattered, lost and without direction, I don’t know how I strayed this far from home. My reputation is cloudy too, I’ve done a lot of things I am not proud of, many I wish I could go back in time and undo.
“But when Simon Peter saw this, he fell down at Jesus’ knees saying “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
But look at me. I clean up nice. Or maybe I don’t. Maybe someone else cleaned me up. And why He did that I’ll never know.
And that’s the beauty of the gospel. Growing up, my understanding of God was that He was a petty bookkeeper who was watching everyone on His CCTV and recording all our sinful acts. I also was of the impression that we, as the Bride had to be spotless and every sin was a spot. As I grew up, gained independence, I would rationalize my actions by saying that since there was already one spot, we might as well soil the whole garment. Like, why go to hell for a teeny tiny dot, when you can have a huge palm oil stain on your white? It didn’t make sense to me.
And it shouldn’t. Because that pattern of thought was wrong. No one told me that God went above and beyond to restore mankind to Him. No one told me that Jesus loved people like me, sinners; that he would invite himself to Zacheaus’ home; that He dined with people of questionable character; that he let some woman wipe His feet with her hair after she’d washed them with her tears. And yes, I had heard and memorised John 3:16, and while my parents tried to instill good behaviour, I started to get preoccupied with works, because that was easier to understand.
But the grace of God can never be fully understood. It can only be accepted. For all our preoccupation with cause and effect and earning things (like a degree, and a raise and recognition), God’s grace is something that we have not and cannot earn. There’s a French Easter greeting which means “the love of God is folly”. God loved us beyond all our understanding, and finished our redemption a long time ago. All that is required from us is to let God be God, while we are men who walk closely with God.
Does this make me a saint? Well, maybe. A saint isn’t someone who is good, but someone who experiences God’s goodness. So while I have been cleaned up, I still have my moments. Some days I dwell too much on the wrong that I have done, instead of the price that Jesus paid for me to be worthy. But I will never forget or doubt that I am loved, as this is the basis of my faith. Genuine acceptance is an act of faith in the God of grace.
Yes I am a ragamuffin, one that Jesus judged worthy of His love.