Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Book Review: The Sacred Romance
A while back, when I was reading Better Than my Dreams by Paula Rinehart, a friend of mine suggested Brent Curtis and John Eldredge's The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God. I was familiar with John Eldredge's name because my past counselor had talked about his book, Wild at Heart.
This book speaks to the heart yearning that all of us feel, a longing for transcendence, that desire for something more than we are experiencing. It calls us to recognize our lives as a love story where we are God's beloved and he is pursuing us relentlessly and hoping we will recognize Him despite the "arrows" that life aims at us. We have all been injured by arrows, but we must choose whether to remain in a shallow protective mode or jump into the depths by throwing ourselves entirely onto the love and provisions of God.
One of my favorite illustrations from the book, from Chapter 4, tells of the story of a Scottish discus thrower who made his own iron discus from a description in a book. What he didn't know was that the competition discus was wooden with a rim of iron. He made his entirely of iron. When time for the competition came, he out threw everyone. I hope to remember this illustration at times when I am looking over my life and comparing it to others, whose burdens seem to be lighter or more easily managed. The moral they proclaimed was: "Train under a great burden and you will be so far beyond the rest of the world that you will be untouchable."
So many of the questions and responses to God that the authors discuss resonated thoroughly with me. The grief-laden questions of "God, why did you allow this to happen to me? Why did you make me like this? What will you allow to happen next?" They go on to write, "In the secret places of our heart, we believe God is the One who did not protect us from these things..." so "like a lover who's been wronged, we guard our hearts against future disappointment." The authors clearly identified the source of this thinking. "Satan's greatest deception is to convince us that God's love isn't good ... that He is holding out on us."
Most of us, facing the heart's God-given hunger and life's disappointments, seek either anesthesia (dulling our senses, lowering our demands) or indulgence (addictive behaviors). But as Oswald Chambers observed, "There is only One Being who can satisfy the last aching abyss of the human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ."
Another favorite quote from the authors: "How is God wooing us through flat tires, bounced checks, and rained-out picnics? What is he after as we face cancer, sexual struggles, and abandonment?" Their answer? "His wooing seems wild because he seeks to free our hearts from the attachments and addictions we've chosen, thanks to the Arrows we've known."
My goal, after reading this book, will be to constantly remind myself of the romance and the end of the story ... especially in moments when I am stuck in the middle and the end seems all too distant. I want to practice "redemptive remembering." As the authors conclude: "Redemptive remembering is where we develop a life script by interpreting the past, with both the Arrows and the Haunting, in a way that gives energy to the present and direction to the future."