Observations of The Sacred Romance – Drawing Closer to the Heart of God (by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge) among a few friends. We hope you'll let us know, whether you've read the book or not, how you are getting closer to God's heart and what you're thinking, too…
Chapter Five: The Wildness of God
I'd like to introduce you to Amy Jo: Amy Jo lives just northwest of the Denver-Metro area with her handsome husband, Damon and their 4-year old pug dog, whom Amy Jo thinks is a raving beauty, Mia Josephine Lucia.
She describes herself as a 30-year old, blond-haired, blue-eyed, God-loving, beauty-appreciating and imitating confectionary addict in braids. She brings a sense of the zany into the room, to be sure!
Her favorite quote from a Radiohead song is, “The best you can is good enough,” which partly must be what makes her such a grace-giver. She is also an artist who is eclectic and passionate about color and she cried when Brooke got eliminated from American Idol because she liked her a lot (and we all were reminded of Amy Jo when we saw Brooke because of her personality and singing style/musical ability). Taco Bell, A & W Root Beer and Chai are her choices. She’s a reader, a scripture lover and memorizer; she’s thoughtful and meditative and silly all at once. We love our Amy Jo and hope you are enjoying her posts here!
Amy Jo kicks us off: I totally get [this chapter], totally. God taught me about His wildness during the dark period of my life which I mentioned in my chapter four response. This is where I live – the reality of chapter 5. But I wonder if I am stuck here?
"Should we love with hopeful abandon, trusting in a larger story whose ending is good or should we live in our small stories and glean what we can from the Romance while trying to avoid the Arrows?…There seems to be no direct correlation between the way we live our lives and the resulting fate God has in store for us, at least on this earth." (page 47) Preach it, brothers; life is a crapshoot! Eat only a high-fiber diet with plenty of water, walk your dog everyday, worship God, be kind to others, and still die of a stomach condition at 48…
"We cover the question [in our heart – about God's goodness] with rationalizations that let Him off the hook and allow us to still believe…" (Page 49) "We might be able to rationalize away that question by telling ourselves that we need to be more careful, or that sometimes others are just bad." (page 50)
The authors speak at length about the story of Job – how God took everything away from him to test him. Job had done nothing wrong, and the instances in which his family and earthly possessions were taken could not be attributed to anything but acts of God Himself. So if Job was not guilty and warranting punishment, and if others could not be blamed for his suffering, what is the answer to the question of why God would do this? There are key people in my life who truly struggle with anger toward God over this very issue. And while I understand where the emotion of anger comes from, I do not think it appropriate to EVER be angry with God. I have no right. the fact that He created me and allows me to breathe is pure grace. What I DESERVE from God are eternal separation, utter calamity and destruction. Everything beyond this is pure grace: my whole life. Now, as to why things that I perceive to be "bad" happen, I ask: do we really need to know? Is not the simple fact that God is to be glorified in everything reason enough? "Shall we accept the good from God, and not also the trouble?" Job 2.10
"Indeed, God calls us to battles where the deck appears stacked in favor of those who are His enemies and ours, just to increase the drama of the play. And there is the clear picture, even from God Himself, that He does so to enhance His own glory." (page 55) Who am I to have a problem with that plan? But if I am fine with the wildness of God and accept that my role in His drama could be painful and tragic, how come I still don;t see the play I am in? Are my eyes blind to His moving? "What is this drama God has dropped us into the middle of? What act of the play are we in and what do our scenes have to do with the larger story being told?" (page 59) I need to humble myself to accept a role without human recognition, or even fruit that is evident to me. The chapter ends with the cry of my heart, "If only we understood His heart more clearly…"
Jeanie adds this: "[We live our lives before] the wild, dangerous, unfettered and free character of the living God." – Walter Bruggeman.
I couldn't help wanting to sing Chris Tomlin's song, "Indescribable" throughout this whole chapter. His lyrics are all from the Book of Job when God basically says to Job, You listen to me; I am Who I am. I do what I do. I am good. What are you going to do about Me? The song is a rousing, uplifting anthem in tribute to a majestic and powerful God. But I bet for Job, it was humbling and hard to listen to. If I'd been in his place, I think my head would've been hanging very low. I actually think Job was pretty restrained in his question-asking. I've been worse.
Amy Jo, because of what you went through and came out of, you are so sure and able to call black "black" and white "white" and God "God." I have and do struggle with it, wondering "Why, God? How long?" And really, it seems ingrained even in the church that when some one is in despair, there is a jump to the conclusion that they did something to deserve it. If some one is living in blessing, we assume they are doing all the right things. I've been the object of these judgements, both good and bad. And I haven't known how to explain why I am blessed any more than why on earth I have gone through some very, seriously trying, painful times of loss and grief.
My dad underlined this paragraph on page 49 and it resonated with me, as well: "…embedded in our stories, deep down in our heart, in a place so well guarded that they have rarely if ever been exposed to the light of day, are other grief-laden and often angry questions: 'God, why did You allow this to happen to me? Why did You make me like this? What will You allow to happen next?' In the secret places of our heart, we believe God is the One who did not protect us from these things or even the One who perpetrated them upon us. Our questions about Him make us begin to live with a deep apprehension that clings anxiously to the depths of our hearts…'Do You really care for me, God?'" Oh, I have asked questions. I have even been angry at God.
But I really got some great clarity when they pointed out the Genesis account of the life of Jacob and how God used both "crippling and blessing" over the course of Jacob's life to show him that his story was more than the small, clever and manipulative story Jacob was creating, but was, in fact, part of the great redemptive plan God Himself was authoring.
So I loved this portion from page 61 and I really want to share it for those of you who don't have the book. Think about this: "The battles God calls us to, the woundings and cripplings of soul and body we all receive, cannot simply be ascribed to our sin and foolishness, or even to the sin and foolishness of others. When Jesus and the disciples were on the road one day, they came upon a man who had been blind since birth. 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents?' they asked Him. 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.' And with that, Jesus spat on the ground, made some mud to place on the man's eyes, and healed him (John 9.1-7)."
"Many of us who are reading these words have not yet received God's healing. The display of God's works through our wounds, losses, and sufferings is yet to be revealed. And so, we groan and we wonder."
So, God of the Universe, You who see every sparrow that falls, You who created the heavens and the earth and also wrote out all the days of my life before I was even one day old (Psalm 139), do You "thoughtfully and thoroughly" orchestrate my steps, my life – to bring about my redemption for Your glory? Can it be true? You are who You are. You do what You do. You are good. When I tell You that I surrender all and that I am living for Your fame, Your Name, and Your acclaim in the earth and in my life, do I even know what I am saying? Yikes! I am learning.
And hey, AJ – what is that "die of a stomach condition at 48" thing??!? Watch it, girl! Ha!!
Heather wrote: What a great chapter. Scary, but great. I’ve never heard of God being described as “wild” and to me it sounds disheveled and chaotic. I know that’s not my God. So it was really interesting to hear of the “..wild, dangerous, unfettered and free character of the living God.” It just filled me with awe, and a whole new level of holy fear. A friend, Mary Jean, who is an amazing teacher, once put the concept of the fear of the Lord in this context: “I love you, sir.” I totally felt that reading this chapter.
The Question in Our Heart The concept here is that from traumatic events and the “..terror we enter and the seeming lack of rescue from it leave us with a deeply imprinted questions about God that we hide in our heart, sometimes not allowing the light of day to touch it for years, even deep into our spiritual journey. We cover the question with rationalizations that let him off the hook and allow us to still believe, but our beliefs rest on foundations that move and quake under us." It goes on to say that this question is “lodged deep in our heart, hidden from our conscious mind: “Do you care for me, God?”
I think this question is probably core to every human’s existence, whether they know it, or choose to acknowledge it or not. I wonder if this question is lodged deep within my heart somewhere. Along with questions such as, “Why? Why did that happen to me? Why did it seem like there was a target on my back growing up? What did I do to deserve this junk?”
Now, I have thought for years I was actually really lucky considering things that other innocent victims have suffered (I still do feel that way). But are those my rationalizations? I don’t know. I have to tell you, this one has me thinking, and I think I need to get to the bottom of it with God in order to move forward.
Another characteristic of our “Wild God” is brought up as the authors recall a scene from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, where sweet Lucy asks Mr. and Mrs. Beaver if their king, Aslan is safe. “..Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you.” I guess I wouldn’t want a “safe” God. I’ve just never really thought about it. I need to be safe with him, and I know that I am. But he isn’t safe. He is mighty, powerful, jealous, able to breathe life into and take life out of anything.
To know and be aware of the fact that His will is going to be accomplished on earth in and through all of us is simply amazing. But to know that he will use whatever means necessary, sometimes complete devastation without any understanding or reason, and sometimes through blessing though we’ve done nothing to earn it, all to reveal His glory, does put us in a position of complete helplessness, (and hopefully submission to Him.) To know it’s all for His good, whether or not we can see it, doesn’t offer much consolation sometimes. Because if we’re honest, when life is hard and it’s pouring down on us, and we cannot see two feet in front of us, we can quickly lose sight of the glorious end. ..But God “He isn’t safe, But He’s good. He’s the king, I tell you.”
Lord, I tremble at the thought of how I’ve tried to “know your ways” or how you might feel about something or how you would direct my steps. I don’t know. I know nothing, I am a simple child. Please have mercy on me and my pride. Please continue to uproot within me the things that separate me from you, mainly, me. Uproot me. Replant me, God, if it’s possible, I’d like to grow again.
Candi wrapped this chapter up: After reading this chapter, I realize that I’m scared to death. Not scared of God, but I’m scared of completely surrendering to the role God has for me. “It seems that the part God has written for us is much too big and certainly too dangerous.” Pg. 53. However, this complete surrender is what’s required of me.
“Every human being is of great significance to God, but those whom God has drawn to believe in him are center stage in a drama of cosmic proportions.” Pg. 53. Well, I want to write my own “safe” script! “Even though the smaller plays we write are often just pieces of stories, becoming our own directors and playwrights at least promises a level of control over the script. We hope we can eliminate most of the relational unknowns along with the villain and live in our smaller stories with some modicum of peace and quiet.” Pg. 59.
Truthfully, I was probably more fearful when I was younger than I am now. I’ve found that the more I learn about God and the closer I get to Him the more He leads me to fully trust Him. He is good and it’s true, “we would like to picture goodness as being synonymous with safety.” Pg. 57. However, when all we are concerned about is living in “safety," then we miss out on the true character of God. We put God in a box and God is so much bigger and wilder than our boxes could ever contain. But, complete surrender takes a lot of trust!
“The truth is, we all come into this world with a predilection to live life under our own terms and according to our own understanding.” Pg. 62. When we realize that we’re in God’s story rather than our own, though, our trust builds.
I’m still on the journey to discovering the wildness of God. About 3-4 years ago I was really convicted that I wasn’t living for relationship with God, but instead I was living for the blessings God provides. I’ve learned Heaven is about being able to worship God and live in relationship with Him, not about getting the big mansion. Life is about bringing glory to God’s Name and not about living for my complete comfort and happiness.
I understand the “household-god religion” the authors talk about on pg. 53 and sadly, I think many churches preach this. As I’ve followed the path to really seeking out God, sometimes I’ve felt cheated wondering what have I gotten myself into??!! The almighty God I serve is too dangerous- I didn’t know that about Him! There’s still such a need in my life to surrender to him, though.
I relate with [the story of the prophet] Jeremiah on pg. 58. He “complains that not only has God written a play that casts him in a devastating role, but that he has also placed a fire in his heart that will not let him leave the play even if he wants to. And there is this fire in all of us, felt as a desire for intimacy and a hunger for meaning, that we must literally kill if we want to escape the play.” God has answered and reassured me so many times when I’ve asked, “Do you really care for me, God?” Because of this, I know I’m in the right place in His story and I rest in knowing Him. That’s all that matters! I really do want to understand His heart more clearly.
We're almost halfway through…Jeanie
NOTE TO SELF: As far as God goes, I really wanna go, "Where the Wild Things Are!"