I finished my second book since living in the apartment a few weeks ago. Truth be told, it's also the second book I have finished for 2009. I am trying to fit in a third before the year is out!
So the book is called 'Crazy love' and it is by a pastor from California, and his name is Francis Chan. Francis is Chinese, he is married and has four kids. He talks about his past a little bit in the book- his mother died giving birth to him, his step-mother died when he was 9, and his father was a hard and emotionless man, who died when Francis was 12. Francis has always been, and continues to be around death in a very real way, performing funerals almost every week. We could go at any moment and find ourselves in front of the judgment seat. What will that look like? What will you say to the Creator of the Universe when you are face to face with Him? We should all have a sense of fear of that day, but also a sense of longing and excitement for that day. But that's all 'shoulds'. Do we? Do you? Do I?
A few days ago I was downloading something to my computer. It said I had 2 minutes till the download would be complete. So I thought that would be a GREAT time to have my quiet time. For two minutes. I actually sat in front of my computer, where I am right now, and I closed my eyes and clasped my hands together and started to pray. I am so grateful that God did not shoot me down with lightning at that very moment. He should have. But He didn't. And that's grace for ya. I had to stop because I felt so disgusting. Chan talks about giving a Holy God our leftovers. He who gave me life, an amazing husband who loves me, 2 healthy and wonderfully crazy kids, a handful of friends, and a gigantic family that loves me; He also happened to create the universe and sent His only Son to die for me on the cross so that I wouldn't have to spend my eternal life in hell, or my earthly life in misery, hopelessness, and meaninglessness. And I was going to give Him as much time as it took to download a program to my computer. And that's it.
The Christian life is not about minutes spent with God however, and I know this. And I am thankful for it. The point of this book is to get to Christians to wake up to the fact that Jesus truly loves us. It's a crazy love, and yet our response to that unconditional and undying love is so- normal. Pathetically so. We, myself very much included, try to appease the Lord our God with a few quick minutes of 'quiet time', read a chapter of the Bible, say a prayer or two, and then we get to check off the 'Did Christianly things today' box on our long list of things to do- which also happens to include 'check e-mail, blog, facebook, watch tv, eat, shower, sleep.'
One of the most memorable things that Chan says in this book is when he talks about the Marine Corps. And why he didn't join it. Because in the commercials for 'The few, the proud, the Marines', they were always running. And Chan hates running. "I didn't bother to ask if they would modify the rules for me so I could run less, and maybe also do fewer push-ups. Tha would have been pointless and stupid, and I knew it. Everyone knows that if you sign up for the Marines, you have to do whatever they tell you. They own you." (p.80)
God tells us to do one thing- to Love. Not to run 3 miles a day. Not to sit and spend 20 minutes with him every day. Or even to read the Bible in a year. Every year. No. God tells us to love Him, with all our heart, soul, and mind. (Matt 22:37) Him. Not money, not acceptance of others, not the internet, etc, etc. Him. Then he tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. People! Not things! (thanks for the extra reminder in your post Cindy) He calls us to love Him, and to love each other. This translates into being a good and dependable friend, a loving mother, a responsible father, a respectable husband, a kind stranger, a generous human being.
God's love is crazy, and it takes a lot of courage and wisdom to even try to almost fathom what that means. "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:16-19.
This is my prayer for myself, and I encourage you to pray this for yourself. I think we all know that God loves us. When will we wholeheartedly respond to that love? HOpefully sooner than later. What will our lives, and the lives of those around us, look like when we respond to that love? I guarantee it will look better than it does now.