Ragged: Spiritual Disciplines for the Spiritually Exhausted by Gretchen Ronnevik grabbed my attention because “spiritually exhausted” is how many are feeling right about now. The book’s synopsis says, “In Ragged, Gretchen Ronnevik aims to reclaim spiritual disciplines as good gifts given by our good Father instead of heavy burdens of performance carried by the Christian… The good news is that spiritual disciplines have less to do with what we bring before God and more about who Christ is for us, not only as the author but also as the perfector of our faith.”
Ragged is 15 chapters, and just over 200 pages long. I think Elyse Fitzpatrick summerises the book up in her forwards when she says, “What you’re about to discover is that the life of the Christian, the life of the free woman or man, is not a life that’s freed from all spiritual disciplines. Rather, it’s a life that’s free to do the disciplines- from the position of being beloved, forgiven, and assured of eternal life…” (pg xi)
In the first chapter Gretchen says how the deeper she studies God’s word, the more she understands that God is exposing her neediness to her own eyes so she can depend on him. This is something every Christian must learn, and some find it hard to grasp. In chapter three, when talking about sanctification, Gretchen says how God isn’t calling us to add to what he’s done, but to lean into what he’s done and how he wants every ounce of our strength to come from him because the Christian life isn’t about accomplishments, but dependence on Christ. Just in 40 pages there’s already so much comfort given to readers.
Chapters 7-15 each focus on individual disciplines… Here are some things that stuck with me.
In the chapter on rest, you’re reminded that we are not the creators but the receivers of rest. The Sabbath was made for man, and resting was a thing before the fall. Prior to Christ, the week was made up of six work days followed by a day of rest. After Christ, we have Sunday, the Lord’s Day, a day reflecting of our rest in Christ because our work is completed in him (but everything we do comes out of our rest IN him, not TOWARDS him).
The next chapter is on bible reading. We shouldn’t flaunt our time in the word, we should treat it like fasting. We also shouldn’t have a mindset like, “I need to read X amount or I’m not doing my duty!” Yes, we should have the desire to read God’s word, but it’s okay if we read a small amount each day. It’s not required to read for hours on end. A friend a while back was telling me how he doesn’t feel as holy as an older woman at his church because she spends 5-8 hours each day reading her Bible and praying, and it really put him in a bad mindset for awhile.
“Once we understand that spirituality isn’t something we accomplish, but something we receive, then we must brace ourselves for the fact that when God gives, he gives in abundance.” (pg 133)
The chapter on meditation was also interesting. Gretchen says that it’s normal that we feel uncomfortable and wrestle with God, because he knows that we need to understand it deep in our bones. She also mentions how she was reflecting on Simon carrying the cross with Jesus, and how that didn’t mean God needed help, it meant that Jesus was being humbled even on his way to the cross.
The book covers a lot of topics, and has some interesting and very helpful insights. I read it slowly so I could reflect on it. It’s a good book, I highly recommend paring this with Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes and comparing/contrasting.
“The law gives meaning to the gospel. Work gives meaning to rest. Death gives meaning to resurrection. If we are to extol the glory of the gospel, the glory of rest, or the glory of the resurrection, we must not minimize what it is conquering…” (pg 187)
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a free copy for review!