I've been a Christian believer for nearly 37 years. You would think that by now I would always be rock solid in my faith. I am not. Like so many of you, I've experienced multiple painful crises in my faith journey. But I keep going.
I recently found myself in a workshop by author Ruthie Delk at the Books and Beyond conference, listening again to the basics of grace, and thankful for the fresh reminder. Ruthie, too, had a deep crisis of faith. Raised as a missionary kid in Belgium, she was an expert in keeping pace on a spiritual treadmill. Then, while her husband David was in seminary (of all places!), she came to the point of spiritual exhaustion and questioning.
"I believed the gospel had the power to change people; it just wasn't changing me. And I was miserable. This disconnect showed up in questions like these:
My head was filled with brilliant knowledge about all the wonderful attributes of God, but my heart was not convinced He even knew my name."
If I believed His love was unconditional, why did I feel loved on the days I "got it right" and feel abandoned on the days I "got it wrong"? If I really believed He was in control, why was I so fearful? If I really believed He was with me, why did I feel so alone? If I really believe His grace saved and forgave me, why couldn't I extend that same grace to others?
My head was filled with brilliant knowledge about all the wonderful attributes of God, but my heart was not convinced he even knew my name."Ruthie shares that her simplistic view of the gospel as a mere entryway into salvation needed to deepen into an expanded perspective of God's holiness, love, and grace. She had viewed herself as an orphan rather than as a beloved daughter of a compassionate Father. Now, the gospel became not just a doorway, but a pathway.
It is every promise, every fact, every attribute of God, and everything we need to know, understand, and experience about God and his grace. As described in Ephesians 1, the gospel encompasses every spiritual blessing we have in Christ.A picture is worth a thousand words, and Ruthie has developed a wonderful diagram called The Gospel 8 to show how Christians can either walk in grace and restoration (convinced that God is our Redeemer, Healer, Defender, Provider and more) or descend into a cycle of despair (defined by rejection, abuse, bitterness, fear and anger) as they look to false gods like work, money, family, approval and performance for their security and satisfaction.
You can watch videos of Ruthie describing the Gospel 8 concept here.
A few more factoids to round out this review:
- Ruthie, who is based in Orlando, is available for speaking engagements.
- Her husband David is president of the Man in the Mirror ministry.
- Much of the book was inspired by concepts in Fear to Freedom: Living as Sons and Daughters of God by Rose Marie Miller, which I read many years ago and highly recommend.
- You can read a sample chapter.
- There are Digging Deeper discussion questions in the book, making it quite suitable for a group study.
- The web site Craving Grace is full of great resources.
- Ruthie recommends the article True Spirituality: The Transforming Power of God by Steve Childers, president of Global Church Advancement.
I recommend this book!