I'm cranking up the ole blog.
I need you to know about this book. I just finished. I've been reading it and trying to get through it for weeks now. I have every available format. Audio, kindle, signed paperback. (EEK! I love signed copies!!) I'm a fangirl.
I'll tell you a bit about why this means so much to me. This book represents, for me, a journey. From where? Back from the familiar shroud, from certainty, to questions that my heart has asked my entire life, that I once thought I had answers for. You see, life smacked me in the face, and I reeled. I didn't know how I could get back.
As I sit here writing this, I can feel that familiar shroud creeping near. I can feel the tendrils of depression unfurling themselves at me. It's gotten easier to resist sinking.
Let me tell you why. I am learning to believe that I'm beloved. It's a hard lesson to accept, and I'm still working.
I believe in Love. I know that God is love. I know he loves everyone. Blah blah blah. That's easy to accept for the world at large. Of course God loves YOU!!
But to accept that I am loved, deeply, unattached to the stars on my behavior chart? Well. Phffffft.
Several years ago, after the darkest year I have ever had, I followed the author on twitter. It was during the week-long General Assembly for the Church of God. I was working nights, but I was nerd enough to come home from my shift and stay up to watch the live stream. With my tweetdeck #COGGA column up, I would rail at anyone I disagreed with, immediately follow and often retweet those that I connected with. I also regularly texted my husband not to come home if he voted certain ways. ;) I do believe the issue of the day was allowing women to become ordained and actually have a say in the polity of the church. Ooo. Dicy stuff!
Jonathan Martin's tweets immediately struck a cord.
Then about a year later, he tweeted something about God having to be at least as nice as Jesus. I stood up and took notice.
Then another year later, when my husband and I were facing some extremely difficult situations in church and work, he became my virtual pastor. I devoured podcasts of his sermons.
Now, that may all sound creepy and Every Breath You Take, but I believe God sent this man's message my way because, well, I needed it.
I wish you could see the highlights in my kindle. Their name should be Legion, for they are many.
On Sunday, I had the privilege of going to Renovatus, Jonathan's church, and getting him to sign a copy that I bought in the lobby.
He preached on obscurity, specifically citing that chapter of the book. "The wilderness is the place where God courts his beloved." That one line blew me away when I read it, and then again on Sunday.
I remember being in the middle of the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year, and there would be little things that made me think, (I kid you not) "God, you're wooing me." And yet, it still took me years to get to a point where I can say that I'm ok and not have to lie.
And I don't think I'm the only one. I think we all struggle with allowing ourselves to actually feel the love that God is literally dying to pour over us. I don't know why it's so hard to believe in love for me.
I do know this. I have so much more empathy and compassion and than I did before my shroud. My prideful disdain for "them and they" became a genuine longing to see from other perspectives, hear "their" story.
The whole time in the wilderness, I wanted to get back to where I was before. Now I wouldn't go there for anything. I would never have believed it at the time, but I'm better off because of my shroud.
I haven't really told you anything about the book, have I?
"Jesus is our prototype."
"When God called Jesus His beloved, Jesus did something truly remarkable: He believed him.... And unlike every other person in history...He never forgot." -- The chapter including those two sentences is worth the price of admission. And the chapter on fear. Well.
If you're feeling ragged, unloved, and lonely, I recommend it. If you're on top of the world and it's your oyster, you may want to invest. Tip-top oyster worlds don't last forever, you know?
Ok. I'm not going to go quoting the entire book to you, you need to do some highlighting for yourself.
I'll wait here, so we can compare notes.
You know how I love talking books.