Stumbling on Open Ground: Love, God, Cancer, and Rock’n’Roll
If you go through something that tests every ounce of your faith, how does it feel when it comes back with a blazing ferocity and pain beyond your ability to imagine even at the worst of your first go-round?
In the 1960s and ’70s, Ken Mansfield led what some would call a charmed life, among the beautiful people. A life many would envy. But years slipped by. Sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll can only take you so far. Beauty fades. Stars dim. Consequences of choices made in the flush of celebrity have consequences. Unwisely-spent wealth vanishes. Bodies break down.
Of Mansfield’s seemingly-blessed circles, with the Beatles and later with country music’s Outlaw movement, many are now gone and, of those gone, there were more than a few tragedies. There has been much suffering among those who thought they were invincible.
Ken’s wake-up call came in December of 1980, with the assassination of his friend, John Lennon.
It was December 1996 when his life went sideways with an unexpected diagnosis of a rare form of cancer.
In Stumbling on Open Ground, Ken Mansfield relates the pain of his battles and the beauty of his God. He made the choice from the beginning that he would trust God.
Most of us aren’t acquainted with the “brutal pain and degradation” of the treatment for his second cancer, and we don’t know the intimacy with God that can be found in the depths. In large part because we resist pain instead of accepting it – not in a fatalistic way, but as something allowed by a loving God who knows us thoroughly, is with us always, and has our true best at heart.
Do I Want Comfort More than I Want God?
I found Ken Mansfield’s faith convicting. When really it’s what Christian faith is meant to be.
Stumbling on Open Ground is a worthwhile read for anyone. As well as giving us a view of the author’s experience of God in his suffering, we are offered a glimpse of what it’s like to love someone through suffering, and not be able to fix it. Each chapter after the first begins with a page by Ken’s wife Connie.
We’re all afraid to suffer, and most of us try to avoid it at all costs. When life is uncomfortable we tend to blame God. A crisis can remind us to turn to Him, but when we do so we expect Him to fix it, to make us feel better. We don’t want to meet and sit with Him there; we want Him to take us out of it and set us back on our way.
We want comfort more than we want God.
In the blistering heat of the battle, when he could do little more than lie still and let God and the chemicals fight for him, Ken Mansfield found the deeper comfort of being held by God within intense suffering.
Stumbling on Open Ground: Love, God, Cancer and Rock’n’Roll is available on Amazon in softcover, Kindle, Audible and MP3CD.
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Disclosure: I originally received a digital copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in return for an honest review. I subsequently purchased a softcover copy. My review is of the softcover.