I wrote this on my trip home from Virginia on Monday while sitting in the Detroit airport....
Sitting on the plane today, I decided to spend my time reading a new book I recently started titled, "Soul Cravings" by Erwin Raphael McManus. I purchased this book almost entirely based off of the title. You see, I'm working on a project right now with other musicians, artists, and like-minded creative people... and the project is all about soul. So you see, the title was intriguing to me, because I've been thinking about soul a lot. What does that mean to you? What does it mean to me? What is soul? What is our soul? How do I incorporate soul into my work as a musician and all-around creative person, but outside of that, how do my beliefs as a Christian define what my soul is and how I should live my life as a reflection of that? I'm on a tangent now....
Back to why I'm writing this, and why I'm actually sitting in the airport terminal writing this, anxious to get these thoughts written out. Entry 9 is where I found myself diving into the book on a section about God, God's love, and why our soul is so connected to that love. By the end of entry 10, I was hooked, and more significantly, emotionally invested. It (the moment of investing myself in the reading) started with this quote:
"What we have described as love has become something so superficial, something so thin and without substance, that pretty much anything qualifies as love. If we really knew love, if we knew deep, profound, unending love, maybe we wouldn't love chocolate. While I'm sure God appreciates all these things (after all, he is the Creator of all that is good and perfect), creation is not the object of his affection. When it comes to love, you exist in a unique category. There are a lot of things that are dispensable to God. He can re-create whatever he wants. You, however, are not on that list. You are unique and irreplaceable. You are the object of God's love."
Then I read:
"But if God's love is immeasurable and unending, as the Hebrews describe him, how deep and profound must be his sense of sorrow and rejection. If anyone knows the pain of a love unreturned, it must be God."
Let me take a moment to beg your forgiveness for how choppy this entry might be. Perhaps by the time you read it, I will have actually slowed down typing at 176 words per minute to actually organize my thoughts more clearly.
At this point I was thinking deeply about God's love. The message that I heard on Sunday while visiting my friend's church in Virginia Beach was all about Christ's death and resurrection... the good, the bad, and the ugly. This message was reminding me of God's love. So as I continued to read through the pages of this book, each new thing hit me hard, like walking out of a pitch-black cave and suddenly seeing the sun's blinding light burst through the darkness. Next was a brief story about how McManus once shared the story of Jesus with a group of Middle Eastern Muslims, who were questioning his Christianity and what the meaning was behind the coming of Jesus.
"I once met a girl named Kim, and I fell in love. I pursued her with my love and pursued her with my love until I felt my love had captured her heart. So I asked her to be my wife, and she did not say yes. I was unrelenting and asked her again, pursuing her with my love, and I pursued her with my love until she said yes. I did not send my brother, nor did I send a friend. For in issues of love, you must go yourself. This is the story of God: he pursues you with his love and pursues you with his love, and you have perhaps not said yes. And even if you reject his love, he pursues you ever still. It was not enough to send an angel or a prophet or any other, for in issues of love, you must go yourself. And so God has come. This is the story of Jesus, that God has walked among us and he pursues us with his love. He is very familiar with rejection but is undeterred. And he is here even now, still pursuing you with his love."
Each time I read the words, "pursues YOU with HIS LOVE", I felt little pieces of my soul being lit on fire with love for Jesus, and my heart being broken in my humanity. Crying on a plane is no comfortable situation, but it was hard to keep the tears from appearing as I continued to read...
"It was as if I could hear God screaming: The anguish you're feeling this very moment, that's how I feel for every human being who walks the face of this earth. If you could just care about people the way you're caring about everything else in your life at this moment, it would make you a different person. You would know the heart of God. There are crows that swoop down on helpless children in Thailand and steal them away to turn them into child prostitues; there are crows that use a caste system to keep millions oppressed and in poverty in Indian; there are crows in the priesthood who hide behind their collars while they abuse children. It doesn't surprise me any longer that a cluster of crows is called a "murder." And this is how Jesus describes the evil one. His summary of the spiritual reality in which we live is pretty simple: 'The theif comes to steal and to rob and to kill, but I have come to give you life and life in abundance."
McManus writes in what can sometimes be seen as overly "flowery" language. He doesn't necessarily write theologically profound thoughts, and for that some people might say he is not worth reading. I've heard people say that about Donald Miller.... that his life isn't a good one to use as an example of how to live our lives. Honestly, I think if you were to ask him, I don't think he would argue with that. I don't think Donald Miller writes to say "live like me".... I think he writes to say "live like Jesus.... and please do it better than I do". But for me, perhaps a mere simpleton, sometimes the more simple the writing, the deeper in cuts. I don't have to spend weeks processing it mentally or talking it through with others to find my way through the maze of what the author meant.... It hits me as I read it, and I find my heart instantly grabbing onto the words as my mind tells me to "read it again! read it again!".
"You are a danger to the world when you love nothing, and you're even more dangerous when you love the wrong things."
I am certain I love the wrong things. And I am certain I have the wrong view of what love, pure love, looks like. I also certain that hurt I've encountered in the past from various men in my life... whether they be my ex-boyfriend, spiritual leaders, professors, or friends... has seriously twisted my ability to trust and love without reserve. I think that these things put separation between myself and God. I think I too often seek my own experience when I think about what God's love looks like, rather than seeking the Bible. Isn't that sad? God gave us His word so that we might know the TRUTH.
Ultimately, I wanted to write this post to say I've been challenged to change how I view love, how I receive it, and how I give it away. I don't know if what I wrote will hit you like it hit me while reading "Soul Cravings", but that isn't why I'm writing... I'm writing in the hopes that you will perhaps think, "Hey, that's pretty rad.... she's learning, growing, and feeling God calling after her heart." Sometimes I get weighed down by all of these deeper, theological, nitty-gritty spiritual issues that people are so focused on. I'm not discounting those as unimportant, but I am certain that God can use the simple truthes just as much as the complex ones. In fact, rarely do I hear of someone coming to know the Lord because they lost in a theological argument. Maybe that's just because I don't engage in those arguments if at all possible... and maybe you think I'm childish or immature for that... but for me, it's so refreshing when I can take a step back and think about the cross, and be so moved that I can't stop the tears on a plane, surrounded by at least 100 people. God feels far away, especially in uncertain times.... but to be reminded of His love and to read over and over and over again, "He pursues you with his love"... well, let's just say I needed to read it, and I needed to read it over and over and over again.
After putting down the book, I instantly listened to this song:
"Awake My Soul" by Mumford and Sons
Have a listen....