Several days ago, I read Brennan Manning’s new book, The Furious Longing of God (David C. Cook, 2009). The book is vintage Brennan Manning. Manning is candid, forthright, and passionate about God’s love. As in his other books, Manning reveals keen insight into humanity as well as God’s grace. Ever self-aware, he describes himself as "a bundle of paradoxes and contradictions" (p. 33).
The title, The Furious Longing of God, has its origins in G. K. Chesterton who spoke of "the furious love of God." Manning says in the beginning of the book that all of his books have basically been "facets of the same gem," that the transcendent God seeks intimacy with us (p. 24).
I read this book (131 pages) in about two days. I found it difficult to put down. Perhaps it was good to simply be reminded once again of God’s love. Over and over Manning affirms the incredible love of God in statements such as "the Jesus I met in the grounds of my own self, has furiously loved me regardless of my state — grace or disgrace. And why? For His love is never, never, never, based on our performance, never conditioned by our moods — of elation or depression. The furious love of God knows no shadow of alteration or change. It is reliable. And always tender" (p. 35).
Repeatedly, Manning affirms not only the love of God but also exposes various inadequate pictures of God such as "God as a small minded bookkeeper, a niggling customs officer rifling through our moral suitcase, as a policeman with a club who is going to bat us over the head every time we stumble and fall, or as a whimsical, capricious, and cantankerous thief who delights in raining on our parade and stealing our joy" (p. 77).
Let me encourage you to read this book…
- … if you need to hear afresh that God deeply loves you.
- … if you spend much of your time working with churches and need to hear of God’s love again.
- … if you are burdened by a faith that is heavy and which offers little hope.
- … if you feel as if you just don’t measure up.
Part of the value of this book comes from knowing Manning’s story. Recovering alcoholic. Divorce. Much, much personal struggle. Yet, his story is about one who seeks God through it all.
Hear Manning’s closing words:
"When the night is bad and my nerves are shattered and the waves break over the sides, Infinity speaks. God Almighty shares through His Son the depth of His feelings for me, His love flashes into my soul, and I am overtaken by mystery. These are moments of kairos — the decisive in-break of God’s fury into my personal life’s story.
"It is then I face a momentous decision. Shivering in the rags of my seventy-four years, I have two choices. I can escape below into skepticism and intellectualism, hanging on for dear life. Or, with radical amazement, I can stay on deck and boldly stand in surrendered faith to the truth of my belovedness, caught up in the reckless raging fury that they call the love of God. And learn to pray" (pp. 130-131).
(You can find this book here.)