I do not read a lot. I enjoy reading when I do it, but I tend to read in bursts.. a reading binge so to speak. I have always been this way. Since becoming a Christian, God has used this quality in me to really speak to me in books by various authors exactly when I needed it. Sometimes I can take notes on what I read, most of the time, I read and comprehend, and don’t really take notes.
This of course poses a problem when I read my bible… I can be very similar. I often read it in bursts. I am working on changing this aspect when it comes to the Bible. But is it really necessary for me to change that in reference to other books (fiction or non). At this time, I really don’t think so.
My girlfriend loves to read. Some might call her a book worm. She loves to take notes when she reads non fiction Christian books, she loves to take notes when she reads her bible, as God speaks to Her through His Word, and the study notes =). And I find it to be a very admirable quality in her. I am glad that she is able to do that (after all, reading and writing tends to be her way of learning, and expressing in a healthy way).
Clearly, my girlfriend and I are not the same. We’re different. We are different people. We are different genders (Thank God)! We do share similar likes and dislikes, but we also are different in some areas. We carry different view points on some things. We have different personalities. We both have different pet peeves. We have different buttons of pressure. Levels of stress. Things that stress us. Different jobs. Different parents (also, Thank God)! The list can go on and on.
God created us this way. We do have our similarities (which make us a compatible couple), but we also have our differences (which makes life exciting). Our similarities and differences work together to teach us. About God, about each other, about life, about friendships, relationships, any number of things can be learned.
Some months ago (toward the beginning of the year), Courtney gave me a book called Crave: Wanting so Much More of God, written by Chris Tomlinson. When I first got it from Amazon.com, I thought I had ordered it! Then I realized when I read the gift slip that she got it for me. She wanted to do something for me. I felt like a big jerk for thinking I had ordered it, when she really had. I still do sometimes when I think back on it. Thank God she does have grace for me! I got through the first seven chapters within a few weeks, it was an exciting read, thought provoking, convicting at times, and just perfect for me at the time! Then I put it down… for at least three months, probably longer. This is normal for me (granted I do not set my bible down for this long)… Thank the Lord for that!
I picked it (Crave) up tonight and read chapter 8: Different. The chapter was equally thought provoking, exciting, and convicting! Had I read the book all the way through three months ago, or however long its been, I probably would have thought it was good, but what it spoke to me this time, is not what it would have spoken to me then. Maybe I would be reading through it again, maybe not. But I know without any doubt that God works through this “style of reading” of mine. But is also calling me to dig into His Word more outside of my reading style, and I pray for the grace to be able to do that.
So, Different, what was it all about? In the book, Tomlinson talks about how we are different from God. It’s how He created us (though we are created in the image of the Father, Son, and Spirit), different. He tells us in His word that His thoughts are higher than ours, and His ways are higher than our ways.
One particular section of the chapter, Chris starts a series of paragraphs with “This is also the God”. They go like this…
“We shudder at the prospect of a God so terrifying and powerful, but is also the God who loved the world so much that He sent His one and only Son to suffer and die that horrible death because of what it means for us. Who are we that we merit this kind of sacrifice?
This is also the God who turned the fiercest enemy of the early church into its greatest missionary. Who was Paul that he was counted worthy of this mercy and honor?
This is also the God who ‘chose us in him before the foundation of the world,’ saving us by His grace through our faith irrespective of anything we have ever done. Who are we to receive the glorious inheritance of Christ without doing anything to deserve it?
This is also the God who has gone to prepare a place for His followers, who is coming back again to do away with sin and death and tears, who will create a new heaven and a new earth, and who will dwell with His people forever. Who are we, such fragile and insignificant beings, that we should enjoy all of eternity with this amazing God?
This is also the God who takes it personally when we offer food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, hospitality to the stranger, clothes to the naked, companionship to the imprisoned, comfrot to the sick, and perhaps even coffee to the cold. What kind of marvelous God is this who identifies with the weakest of humanity?
God is different. He’s much more terrifying than I had imagined but also so much more glorious and beautiful than I thought possible. I’ve spent too many years glossing over hard truths about God in favor of pleasant ones in an attempt to make Him more palatable to my taste or softer to the touch of others’ ears. In the process, I have developed inch-deep beliefs about a mile-high God.”
Inch-deep beliefs about a mile-high God. I don’t know about you, but those words pierced my heart, and cut me deeply. My God is a mile-high (and even that is a limiting term, when in fact He is infinite), and my beliefs in comparison are merely inch-deep (and that, too, seems like a stretch). They only scratch the surface. My comprehension of His love only goes so deep. My right-standing belief about who He is only goes so deep. I only understand so much. Perhaps this is best summed up by Steven Curtis Chapman in the lyrics to his song God is God: “God is God and I am not, I can only see a part of the picture He is painting, God is God and I am man, I will never understand it all, for only God is God.”
Tomlinson goes on to say “It seems that when we encounter a hard truth about God, we either bend our understanding to Him or bend Him to our understanding.” (Are we following and believing in a Creator who created us in His image, or are we creating Him in our image to suit our own selfishness)?
“We all must eventually answer this question: What happens when we look deep inside? What if we find something about ourselves we don’t want to discover? Even worse, what if we find out something about God we didn’t want to know?”
Think about it, examining ourselves is hard enough, but if we learn something new concerning God, we have a higher standard we are expected to live up to… something more He will hold us accountable to, particularly on judgement day. He of course extends us His grace to do so. All we need do is ask in His name, and we will receive!
“How badly do we want this kind of water? [living water] Are we willing to ask Jesus for it? Are we willing to do hard things like being weirdoes for Christ when He tells us to do things we’d rather not? Are we open to doing harder things like examining the parts of our hearts we’ve hidden for so long? Are we ready to do the hardest things like embracing the God of the Bible in all His glorious fury and tenderness?
…believing all the while that it will not only satisfy our cravings for God but also change us in the process. As he goes about changing us, we will begin to more easily turn the other cheek when hit, show love in response to hate, and even show kindness to heat-starved, grumpy cops (based on a story earlier in the chapter). He will grant us the courage to examine our own hearts against the purity of His Son. And He will give us the wisdom to rethink everything we believe about Him, using the sweeping wind of Scripture to blow away the chaff of our superficial faith.
After all, God is in the process of making us different, just like Him.”
Amen, Chris, Amen!
God is in the process of making me different, just like Him! AMEN!