3 days left until Reckless Pursuit: God’s Story of Relentless Love (click here for the book’s website) is released!
August 19th – you will be able to purchase an initial copy directly from the publisher about six weeks before it hits Amazon.
Until then…here’s the introduction as it appears in Reckless Pursuit:
ARE YOU HUNGRY?
“Babe, do you need to eat?” she asks in a probing tone. I know this question and I hate what it means. I respond to my wife, trying my best not to show my irritation, “Yeah, I guess so.”
It’s a scenario that has played itself out over and over through the sixteen plus years Kristen and I have been married. We’re out running errands or tackling one of our countless remodel projects and the hours begin to get away from us. As they do, without me knowing it, my body uses up all the energy I had stored from breakfast and my mood begins to change. I get quiet and distant, and yes, I have to admit…a bit edgy. This process used to create a great deal of conflict between us. I would snap at Kristen, she would fire back and in a matter of seconds, a beautiful day would become defined with struggle. However, over the years, Kristen has learned to help us avoid this. She has learned to recognize the look I get on my face and the subtle change of tone in my voice. She has come to acknowledge that my change in mood is not about her or what she has done. She simply needs to feed me. And when she does, we’ll be good to go for several more hours. I am not proud of this little personality flaw. In fact, I would love to change this about myself but it is who I am. What I am so thankful for is that I have a wife who truly knows me and who patiently loves me.
You see, no one knows me like Kristen. She knows when I’m getting hungry, even before I do. She knows what I need and how to go about taking care of me without adding to the chaos. She knows how to read my face, my body language and most of all my heart. This goes so much deeper than my occasional struggle with needing food. My wife skillfully applies her knowledge of me in just about every aspect of our lives together. In fact, she knows me so well that I have come to realize it is extremely difficult for me to hide anything from her. For this, I am blessed!
Living this way with someone, being completely known and loved even in my faults, is an amazing gift. One that is not missed by me. I realize this kind of reckless love is rare in our world. Considering this makes me wonder what life without this deep knowing would be like.
How tragic it would be if you asked Kristen what it’s like to be married to me and instead of describing my heart, she rattled off the following, “Well, he’s six foot four inches tall, he weighs one hundred ninety-five pounds, he has hazel eyes, dark brown hair and for the last decade has worn a goatee.” In view of your question, this answer from my wife would seem ridiculous. You might laugh and say, “No, really. What’s he like?” In response, what if she just looked at you with an inability to tell you anything else? What would you think of our relationship? How worried for our future would you be?
Too often, this is our approach to knowing God. We reduce him down to a series of facts, figures, names, dates and organized theological truths. As a result, the person of God is diminished and his heart is lost. He becomes nothing more than information on a spreadsheet. He is turned into an object we occasionally pray to but he is distant and removed. He becomes more of an idea than someone we know.
This is one of the tragedies of religion. In our attempts to understand and explain God, we end up drawing a box for him to live in. We try to describe his nature and often end up with a terribly lopsided picture, focusing on our particular favorite attribute. For some it’s grace and love; for others it’s justice and mercy; and for others it’s holiness and judgment. In response, we argue over what’s really important and what is fundamentally core to the nature of God. We script arguments and draw lines in the sand. We point fingers and accuse each other, all in the name of God. The sad reality of all this, is it is possible to know an encyclopedia of information about God and yet never actually encounter him.
This is the difference between knowing about God and knowing your Father. It is the difference between a religious connection to him and the personal, intimate relationship that occurs between us when we truly come to know his heart. You see, this is why we were created. To know and be known by our God. To live in a deep relationship of love with him, our gracious Father. To miss this is to miss him completely. When we find ourselves in this kind of relationship with him, we will find ourselves in the midst of the most amazing courtship this world has ever known.
Knowing God — I mean really knowing God — changes everything. It changes the way we see ourselves, the value we place on other people, the priorities we live in and the beauty we find in nature. Knowing God increases the joy we are able to live in, allowing us to delight in even the little blessings of our Father.
If you ever get the chance to ask Kristen about me, she’ll grin and begin telling you stories. She will tell you about the unique circumstances surrounding how we met in my parent’s kitchen. She will tell you about the three unsuccessful attempts at a first date and then you will hear how much of a dork she thought I was after our second date. She will tell you about our fairly quick courtship and about the back porch proposal. Then, as the two of you settle into the meat of the story, you will hear of unbelievable moments that will make you laugh so hard that you think you’re going to cry and events that actually do make your heart weep. You see, my wife knows me. She really knows me. And for her to tell you about me, she will tell you my story as it has been lived by her.
This is the task of scripture. To tell us the story of God, as lived by us, the love of his life. I believe this is why so much of the Bible is packaged in story form. It is the people of God, through the Spirit of God, telling us about the love of God. It is his story, uncovering his heart, his passions and his priorities. As this story unfolds, we find ourselves in the center of it, not because we are the stars of the story but because we are his relational priority. We are his love interest, so much so that his story cannot be told without us.
What is heartbreaking is that so often, our role in the story of God is that of a resistant lover. A lover who denies her pursuer and in so doing, denies her own heart the joy she was created for. And yet, God continues to pursue. An amazing man of God, named Landon Saunders, puts it this way, “All of history can be summed up in this: A radical God, recklessly pursuing a rebellious people.”
Reckless Pursuit. This is the story we find ourselves in. It is Yahweh’s story. It is a story of radical, relentless love.
In the following pages, you will encounter a retelling of this story. It is not the entire narrative, nor is it intended to be. It is simply an attempt to make the story of God accessible. In the pages to come, we will seek to discover the heart of God and watch his undying love weave our history together.
As you experience the story of Yahweh, allow this discussion to call your heart to know — truly know your God. Dive into his story not as a casual observer but as an active participant, continually asking the following two questions:
- What is God’s heart in this story?
- How can I express his heart in the world around me?
The task of this book is to clear the way for the first question to be answered, while opening the door for you to begin to discover how to address the second. Have these questions in mind before you read and consciously deal with the answer to them at the conclusion of each chapter. Allow your heart to break when God’s heart breaks and to rejoice when his rejoices! Then ask yourself, “Where have I seen this heart of God expressed in the world around me?” Even more, “How can I better represent this heart to a world who has largely forgotten the true Father?” The end result of this process will change everything. Your one true love will reshape your heart and you will find your story perpetuating the greatest love of all time.