Saturday, August 05, 2006

Captivating, chapter 7 - The Love of God

Captain’s Log, Stardate 08.05.2006

Blog book giveaway:
My Monday book giveaway is SECRETS OF THE ROSE by Lois Richer.
My Thursday book giveaway is THE SIMPLE LIFE by Wanda Brunstetter.
You can still enter both giveaways. Just post a comment on each of those blog posts. On Monday, I'll draw the winner for SECRETS OF THE ROSE and post the title for another book I'm giving away.


Romanced: I apologize that I’m late posting this, because I know you guys are just waiting with bated breath for my brilliant thoughts.

“This wild God of mine . . . loves me. Not in a religious way, not in the way we usually translate when we hear, ‘God loves us.’ Which usually sounds like ‘because he has to’ or meaning ‘he tolerates you.’”

These few sentences really struck me, for several reasons.

1) This wild God of mine. I love that description of him!

2) I’ve definitely felt sometimes that “God loves us” really does seem to say “because he has to” or “he tolerates you.” I could totally relate to that, even though I know in my head that it’s not true.

I don’t like how she equates the passion of the persecuted church with Romance. I understand she’s trying to show women that their faith isn’t just obedience, but it’s passionate obedience, passionate faith, complete and total abandonment to God. I just don’t like the term Romance because it has a different cultural connotation than how she’s using it.

Later, she says “the root of all holiness is Romance.” Again, I don’t know if I agree with using that term. The root of all holiness is love. God’s kind of love, rather than man’s kind of love.

Romance, to me, implies man’s kind of love. Flowers, chocolates, etc. It’s almost like it’s trivializing God’s kind of love because of the cultural connotations attached to that term, Romance.

I do agree that when women are loved, they blossom. I’ve seen it in friends who are in love and know they are loved. I’ve felt it when I started dating my husband. (Of course the dirty dishes in the sink and the smelly socks on the floor cured that right quick. ;) )

I also really like that she’s telling women that they don’t need the love of a man to feel beautiful and captivating. That the love of God—the wild, reckless, passionate love of God for each of us—is more than enough to show us who we really are.

The guided journal goes on to ask questions like, “What would it be like to experience this love of God for you?” and “What would alter in the way you perceive yourself?”

This concept of God’s passionate love for me isn’t a new concept for me. It’s something God spoke to me years ago, when I was struggling with my singleness and trying to be content. He taught me that his love is more than just “being content,” that being in his love was over-abundance, complete satisfaction, if I opened myself up to him.

The most powerful description of his love came from a Rich Mullins’s song, “The Love of God”:

. . . caught in the reckless, raging fury that they call the love of God.

To be honest, the entire album Never Picture Perfect is absolutely stupendous.

This passage from the guided journal is very true, at least for me: “Having our hearts begin to grasp the depth of Jesus’ personal, intimate, intentional love for us, changes us. In all the best ways.”

The guided journal also instructs “Write a love letter to him. (He will really like it!)” I thought that was cute. :)

I like how she talks about how God’s “romancing” of each of us is immensely personal. I believe that’s true. The way God reveals his love to each of us is in ways only we could individually recognize.

I also like how she asserts that “He is an extravagant, abundant Lover, and he loves to reveal his heart ot us again and again.” I agree with that, as well. I’ve felt it. I like how she’s writing this so that other women can feel that, too.

Her story about the one starfish and then the hundreds of starfish made me laugh, because I’ve seen God work in that way in my life, too, to show me how immense his love for me is.

They reiterated something I always thought was a no-brainer, but I guess they mentioned it because there are some women who obey God without that passionate love for him and from him:

“Yes, yes, he wants your obedience, but only when it flows out of a heart filled with love for him. ‘Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.’ (John 14.21) Following hard after Jesus is the heart’s natural response when it has been captured and has fallen deeply in love with him.”

This is something I and my husband often try to knock into the heads of the teens at church youth group. It’s not just doing the right thing, it’s doing it because you love God so much.

I really like how they reiterate that “An intimate relationship with Jesus is not only for other women, for women who seem to have their acts together, who appear godly and whose nails are nicely shaped. It is for each and every one of us. God wants intimacy with you.”

I also like in the guided journal how they pointed out that Jesus described Mary’s anointing of his body with perfume as “beautiful.” That’s a wonderful picture of beauty.

In describing worship, I don’t quite like how they emphasize the role of music and not the role of the Word of God. Often the Bible—and the Holy Spirit nudging me—speaks to me most powerfully. It also seems to be a way for me to know it really is God speaking to me and not just my own desires welling up in an emotional experience.

Worship can be intensely emotional, don’t get me wrong. But it should also be grounded in God’s Word, God’s presence. We women can get emotional over a lot of things, and I don’t want my emotional-ness to be ungodly. I want it to be truly from Christ.

I liked how she emphasized that “we come to God in worship not to get from him but to give to him.”

I don’t know if I agree with her last statement, “to be spiritual is to be in a Romance with God.” Feeling loved by God isn’t the end-all, be-all of abiding in Christ.

He said himself that obedience is important, when it’s obedience in love (John 14:21, they quoted it above). I doubt God just wants us to feel his unconditional love for us but not obey him. His love doesn’t waver if we don’t obey, but fellowship does suffer.

I do like that they end the chapter in the guided journal with Psalm 27:4:

One thing I ask from the LORD,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

This is a favorite passage of mine, because it speaks to my heart’s deep, secret longing to be united with Christ.

In sum: She seems to be reaching to women who may not realize the abundant and passionate love God has for them. There were some things—some generalizations—that I disagreed with, but I do most heartily agree that God’s love is passionate, wild, and for each of us individually.

. . . caught in the reckless, raging fury that they call the love of God.

The Love of God
By Rich Mullins
Romans 8:18-39, Ephesians 3:14-21
From the album Never Picture Perfect

There's a wideness in God's mercy
I cannot find in my own
And He keeps His fire burning
To melt this heart of stone
Keeps me aching with a yearning
Keeps me glad to have been caught
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God

Now I've seen no band of angels
But I've heard the soldiers' songs
Love hangs over them like a banner
Love within them leads them on
To the battle on the journey
And it's never gonna stop
Ever widening their mercies
And the fury of His love

Oh the love of God
And oh, the love of God
The love of God

Joy and sorrow are this ocean
And in their every ebb and flow
Now the Lord a door has opened
That all Hell could never close
Here I'm tested and made worthy
Tossed about but lifted up
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God

4 comments :

  1. Camy, Reading your comments gives me a glimpse of you being able to see how others might receive the book/chapter. I get stuck on a statement she makes, and have a hard time going beyond it. I'm still struggling with how to receive what she has to say. Toward me? Toward someone else? I'm not sure I'll have it figured out when I finish, but I am still pressing on. Thank you for the insight you had into what she had to say.

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  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. MTC, I deleted your post because it looked suspiciously like spam. If you are legit, I do apologize. Please e-mail me to let me know.

    Camy

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  4. You know...I confess, that I have always known that God loves me...but not in the way that is being described in this book, and I think it is great. It has really bridged a lot of unexplained gaps for me. Sometimes I think just saying "God loves you," is so vague and gets so convoluted, especially in our culture- that someone needs to come in and explain what that really means.

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