Ragged: Spiritual Disciplines for the Spiritually Exhausted
by Gretchen Ronnevik
5 out of 5 cups of coffee!
I suspect that some of you are reading this book review for the same reason that I ordered this book as soon as I saw a promo for it on my social media feed. It struck a chord of recognition as I was in a place of emotional and spiritual fatigue—I was feeling very, very ragged.
What I found in this work was a compassionate dose of encouragement from a fellow traveler on this journey. It is my privilege to offer it to you as well.
The idea of spiritual disciplines brings many people comfort as it can seem a way to do well or excel at the spiritual life by putting some order or routine to something that can often seem kind of unclear. At the same time, this idea can be deflating to others as it seems like another list of expectations to be met or rules to follow or chores to be done.
Ms. Ronnevik’s work here seeks to reframe our conception of spiritual disciplines in a way that I believe will serve both of those kinds of folks well. I think it best to share her aim in her own words from the introduction:
“My prayer is that this book will take you deeper into understanding what God desires for you, what he has given you, and how he will provide for you. My goal is to help you receive the lighter yoke of Christ, shirking the heavy yoke of perfection and performance, so that you may have greater peace in abiding in Christ.”Gretchen Ronnevik, Ragged, p. XX
With this aim in mind, Ronnevik spends the first six chapters of the book unpacking the perspective from which she encourages us to approach the entire concept of spiritual disciplines. She challenges the way we think even of the word discipline:
“Discipline doesn’t mean punishment. Jesus took all of our punishment upon himself. Discipline is training, provided by God, for our good, training us to understand our rights and freedoms as his child.”Gretchen Ronnevik, Ragged, p. 6
With this understanding, then, we have to see our spiritual disciplines less as exercises to whip us into shape and more as tools to stir more awareness and mindfulness of God’s work of grace in our lives:
“The spiritual disciplines repeat God’s gospel story in our lives. They’re an action taught in Scripture for the purpose of remembering what God has done, so that we depend on him rather than ourselves.”Gretchen Ronnevik, Ragged, p. 7
After spending the first part of the book reframing these pivotal terms, the remaining chapters (7-15) look at different disciplines of faith and how each is a unique means of remembering the richness of God’s grace toward us and how He wants to work in us—and please be sure that the work of transformation that God has in mind for each of us is a work than only He can accomplish by His Spirit from the inside out (See Philippians 2.12-13).
I think I’ve stolen enough of Ms. Ronnevik’s thunder, so I will simply urge you to pick up this unique book about spiritual disciplines that will NOT pile on guilt about all the things you don’t do well or do enough or at all. I have plenty of those kinds of books.
I chose to take this book in very slowly as a guide for my personal devotional time so it was a journey of a few months. If you are weary in your faith and in need of some gentle coaching, I heartily recommend you pick up this great book and let God use it in your journey.
Note: I am considering leading a study/discussion group through this book. If you would be interested in joining in such a discussion in person or in an online forum, please leave a comment and I will be sure to share the information with you.
You can purchase “Ragged” through these Amazon links:
Paperback – https://amzn.to/3jF1HpG
Audiobook – https://amzn.to/3YDnRqX
Leave a Reply