In much of literature, movies and theater, you will find several themes the author wants you to decipher and meditate on. One of these themes is, “The Loss of Innocence.” I described it a few weeks ago in a blog I posted, [click here].
This theme is vividly portrayed in the movie: Ragamuffin. In this extraordinary film you will view the life story of a very gifted Christian singer and song writer, Rich Mullins.
He was well known for his contemporary Christian gospel songs: Awesome God (1988) and Sometimes By Step (1992) among others. As a child, however, Rich was traumatically affected by a very callous and distant father – one who was not able to express the love and affirmation that Rich Mullins deeply craved. Inwardly, this dad had his own demons, his own emotional baggage, that stunted Rich Mullins’ confidence and worthiness of himself being a valued member of his family.
After viewing this film, I could not help but be reminded how many of us Christians continue having great difficulty overcoming our emotional wounds – our loss of innocence – especially after accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Many of us Christians, after receiving the Holy Spirit, still nurture heartbreaking issues inflicted in youth. You may ask, is not the Spirit of God in us a spirit of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV)? Why does not the Holy Spirit heal every one of us so deeply affected? Wouldn’t it make us better lights to the world?
Much of this may perhaps be because of our stubbornness and our self-determination to not listen to God’s voice – usually from fellow Christians. Others tend to want to always be the victim and blame others rather than themselves.
Many of us still go through depression and addictions such as alcoholism and substance abuse. Does that mean we are not Christians? We still profess Jesus Christ as our Savior, still attend Church services and give to religious charities. But many of us may not have fully accepted Jesus Christ’s forgiveness of our sins. Many of us Christians, for some reason or other, still believe and behave as emotionally broken individuals.
Rich Mullins may have been one of these Christians – a ragamuffin. His on-and-off bouts with alcohol and compulsive obsessive behavior marked his life. Most of his moments of struggle as a Christian were mainly due to his fear of success and rejection.
Yet, he had the Holy Spirit within him! This Spirit enabled Rich Mullins’ life to be a reflection to all of us just how gracious and loving indeed is our Father God in heaven.
God only knows, I do not fully have acceptable answers to these questions to give you here. It is mostly a job for the Holy Spirit to work on. Nevertheless, books, autobiographies and movies such as Ragamuffin do provide us with valuable insights for contemplation and prayer – prayer for these type of brothers and sisters, the ragamuffins in our congregations.
But wait! Here is a book that caught my attention as I was putting this blog post together! It is called, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-up, and Burnt Out. It contains a forward written by Christian music composer and singer, Michael W. Smith. The book was written by a pastor, Brennan Manning who discipled Rich Mullins.
While Rich Mullins was driving to a particular destination with a friend, he (Rich) became acquainted with Brennan by listening to one of his recorded messages. (See the second YouTube video clip below.) It was a decisive, turning-point moment for Mullins’ short yet illustrious life.
Rich Mullins received much needed help, mentoring and inspiration from this pastor who was also depicted in this film! I did not realize that fact until I saw the movie a second time over the weekend.
Anyway, looking at the book’s near 600 customer reviews in Amazon.com [click here], as of this writing, 80% of the responders gave it a Five-Star rating (excellent), 11% gave it a Four-Star. That adds up to 91%. Because of that statistic, plus hearing other comments and quotes Brennan Manning gave in the movie, I decided to purchase the book. I just may post my impressions of it in a future blog post. Why? I have a suspicion that there is a trace of a ragamuffin in the rest of us.
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Pastor Brennan Manning’s message working through God’s Spirit that connects with Rich Mullin’s heart.