This book is a user-friendly delight to read...! It's confirming the message I'm hearing elsewhere, yet put in "Christianese". Here are some snippets for your perusing pleasure:
Conversation between two friends:
"I'm sick of chasing after God - I want God to chase me for a while!"
"To be honest, I'm tired of chasing Him, too."
I still don't know exactly where that came from, but it was the most honest I'd been in a long, long time.
Weariness may not be the best word for what we experience from time to time. Let's call it a nagging sense that all is not right between God and us. We sense that our faith should be stronger, that our resolve should be more resolute, that our lives should be more in tune with God's will. And that we should be closer to God than we so often feel.
In your heart you know you're supposed to chase God - and so you do. You continue to pursue Him, to reach for some kind of real and personal connection with your Creator, yet feeling all the while as if you're running in place. And the faster you run, the more exhausted you become. Eventually your heart grows weary, and you do the only thing you feel you can do: You succumb to spiritual numbness.
Don't you wish you could stop and let God chase you for a while?
What if I told you that's exactly what God does - that He not only chases you but never takes His eyes off you? What if I could prove that God has never gone a minute without thinking of you, wooing you, whispering in your ear, I'm right here..? What if I could show you that God not only pursues you day by day, minute by minute, but he actually screams for your attention?
You don't have to chase God. All you have to do is awaken to his voice. He is never silent or out of reach or indifferent to what's going on in your life.
What if I went a step further and showed you that God's pursuit of you has absolutely nothing to do with your level of obedience and righteousness or your dedication to the spiritual disciplines? He has drawn near to you whether or not you ever choose to draw near to him.
Is there any more potent force that love? Is there anything in life that brings greater motivation, higher expectations, deeper introspection, better clarity? Is there an emotion that elicits more passion or brings out more fury?
The world moves for love -- it kneels before it in awe.
When you are led by love, nothing is powerful enough to stop you. Nothing can discourage your quest.
And God is led by love.
More than that, God is love. It is his nature, his primary focus, his driving force. He is moved by love, provoked by love to press forward, to stay the course, to relentlessly pursue his beloved.
This book is written for those who want desperately to believe that truth. It is for those who long to feel loved and wanted by God. It is for those who want to believe in the furious faithfulness of God, yet struggle to see it. It is for those who want to trust deeply in the character of God.
The most damaging lies we encounter in life tend to be the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves. And the damage is multiplied because these lies almost always go unchallenged. The hard truth is that transformation can't begin until we start to challenge these lies with a more complete understanding of God. Until we contrast what we tell ourselves to be true with what God says is true.
"Life is hard, and then we die," we may tell ourselves. But God tells us, "Everything has meaning -- everything you experience in life is either a product or a by-product of my great pursuit."
"My faith is so weak," we say. But God says, "It's not about your faith; it's about my faithfulness."
"I'm just an unworthy sinner," we say. But God says, "You are not defined by what you do; you are defined by Who pursues you."
"What comes into our minds when we think about god is the most important thing about us." (A. W. Tozer)
"If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for he cannot disown Himself." (2 Tim 2:13)
What would happen if you woke up tomorrow morning and flipped on the news only to learn that God had just announced that everyone on earth was saved? Or what if you went to church next Sunday, and God showed up to tell everyone that he had just done away with hell? Imagine that, from here on out, there was no longer any cause to worry about eternal judgment.
If you knew for certain that no one would end up in hell, would you still tell people about Jesus? Would you still have a compelling message to share? Would you have any motivation to try to reach those who don't know God?
If everyone on earth were saved, what could you say about God that might still appeal to people? Would you have enough of a relationship with God to talk passionately about His love and mercy? If you couldn't spare people the torments of hell, would you still want to make sure they knew how to enjoy a relationship with God?
How you answer those questions says everything about the nature of your relationship with God.
"I'm often surprised to find out how my doubts can mingle so freely with my faith."
"I don't let go of my thoughts -- I meet them with understanding. Then they let go of me."
"The sorrow of God lies in our fear of Him, our fear of life, and our fear of ourselves."
"God will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in his love than in your own weakness."
"You live by shedding."
Perhaps the hardest thing you will ever do is to accept God's acceptance of you, which leads to resting in the faithfulness OF God, instead of wallowing in the faith-less-ness of your humanity.
If we could learn to trust and rest and BE instead of always striving to DO, we would find ourselves face to face with some of life's most perplexing paradoxes. First, that transformation comes only when we stop trying to transform ourselves. Second, that love can flow out of us only after we've allowed it to flow freely into us. And third, that you can't catch God by chasing Him; you catch Him only by accepting His pursuit of you.
And here is perhaps the greatest paradox of all: God somehow made the Story all about you, by not making it about you at all.
"It is never fitting to say that we are only human."
"Our Lord God is to me all in all. Since he is, what more could I have and what more can I desire?"
(Thomas `A Kempis)
"Today the heart of God is an open wound of love. He aches over our distance and preoccupation ... He weeps over our obsession with muchness and manyness. He longs for our presence."
Time as we know it is an illusion. It may feel real, but it's not. Time is all in your head. Just a figment of your imagination, so much smoke and mirrors.
But we live in a world that worships time. We live and die by it. We cling to our calendars, Day-Timers, or PDA's like a drowning man clinging to a life raft.
Our preoccupation with linear time wasn't an issue until about the seventeenth century. Before that, the world was pretty much ruled by seasons. Somewhere along the way, all that changed, but who knows why? We started obsessing with time. In the process, we lost touch with the present. We forgot how to live in the moment. And when you lose touch with the present, you lose touch with god, because that's the only place He can exist for you (the Kingdom of heaven is at hand, here and now, in your midst).
We are all affected by an underlying belief that robs us of our relationship with God. It is the reason we struggle so hard to hear him. It causes our relationships with family and friends to suffer, it creates unnecessary stress, and it robs us of hope.
This underlying belief isn't about our obsession with time, although it has something to do with that. It also isn't about our inability to live in the present, although it has a lot to do with that. It's much more subtle. And it's always at work in us.
This underlying belief is that we are not enough and that we don't have enough.
This fear-based belief causes us to be obsessed with time. It's the reason we're so preoccupied with our schedules, so intent on maximizing each hour and each day, so obsessed with performance and productivity. It drives us to live in the future, and it causes us to be eaten up with the regrets of the past. We are all dogged with the feeling that we're not enough. We believe that we're not enough because we don't have enough and we're not accomplishing enough. We're convinced that everything we need for happiness is "out there, somewhere," just beyond our reach. And we're always striving to get to the place where we can capture the happiness that eludes us. We see the present moment as nothing more than a means to an end.
We've lost sight of who we are in the present moment. The only time that exists is the present, the here and now, this moment. It is physically impossible to live in any other moment than the present one.
Could it be that what you and I need most is a new way of looking at our lives in the presence of God? Let's try this one on for size: "In this moment, I find God. In this moment, I am and have all I need."
God is the great I Am, not the I Was, nor the I Will Be.
Think of the unwarranted power we give both to the past and to the future. We believe we can kill time in the present moment without injuring our eternal relationship with God. It is impossible to be with God in the past, or in the future; we can walk with him only in the present moment. And because God doesn't submit to a linear time line, every moment is an eternal moment. Eternity isn't waiting for a grand blessing to come at the end of this life. Eternity is living with God today, being fully alive in His presence moment by moment. The sacred eternal space in the reality of His immediate presence.
"Life does not happen to us; it happens from us."
"Return to me, for I have redeemed you."
(God, through Isaiah)
"We love, because He first loved us."
(God, through John)
"You didn't choose Me; I chose you."
"Human things must be known to be loved. But Divine things must be loved to be known."
"The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved."
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
(Oliver Wendell Holmes)