Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Furiously Taking Baby Steps

The last book study go-around with hosts Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter covered A.W. Tozer's The Pursuit of God. As we went through the book week by week we identified some of the roadblocks that we put between ourselves and a relentless pursuit of a fulfilling relationship with our Creator. I wish I could say after that study my relationship with God has never been better, that I am maturing spiritually by leaps and bounds, and I am living a life that brings ever increasing glory to God the Father.

I wish I could say that.

Truth is, life happens. We forget lessons. We get distracted. And what we hope to be great strides are really only baby steps.

So I was excited when Jason and Sarah picked Brennan Manning's book The Furious Longing of God because, while it hits on the same theme, it approaches it from the other direction: God's Pursuit of Us. Plus, I have been wanting to pick Manning up, hearing so much about The Ragamuffin Gospel. His chapters are short, somewhat poetic, and straight to the point. He doesn't craft arguments of logic like Tozer (which appeal to those who are left-brained like me) and instead goes straight for the heart. I know already I am going to struggle coming up with anything to write about as I need to listen to my heart an not rely solely on my head. Thankfully, Manning helps me cheat by providing discussions at the end of each chapter. I'll get to those in a moment.

You don't want to oversell a promise right out of the gate in your first chapter, but Manning does just that. Based on Song of Songs 7:10 which reads, "I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me." (NASB, emphasis added) he promises that when we truly embrace that truth, this furious longing, our lives begin to transform. One way in particular that stood out to me reads, "In a significant interior development, you will move from I should pray to I must pray." This would indeed be a significant development.

It is hard for me to imagine God pursuing me. I can picture God as the father keeping watch for his prodigal son. but I struggle to see Him in furious pursuit of me. Such a love would in fact bring me to my knees.

I'm not a prayer warrior by any means. I know I should pray. I feel it when I need to pray. But I struggle with the words. It's not that I don't believe God hears my prayer or that he has my best interests at heart. It is more that I let life discourage and distract me. I can't furiously pray because I'm typically too furious about something else to pray.

Meanwhile God is chasing after me, like a beloved after his lover. Shame on me for playing so hard to get!

If I took baby steps towards God following Tozer's Pursuit, then God took leaps towards me. This book may still be baby steps for me but hopefully I begin to toddle. And you know toddlers, once they get started, they're off and running before you know it!

So please join me, Jason, Sarah and others as we dig into this book. We will lean on each other, learn from each other, and prayerfully all grow together.

Consider this:

When you read that phrase- the furious longing of God- what emotions or images does it evoke?
"... I should pray to I must pray." How would you describe the difference between the two?


Thomas Mason said...

Taking baby steps can be so frustrating because when I want to change I want it to happen yesterday. But that rarely happens. I can identify with getting distracted with the world's stuff. I want to pray and pray "furiously" but life gets in the way. I love and I'm grateful that God doesn't stop pursuing me even if I do.

Jason Stasyszen said...

Frank, I'm so happy that momentum is not determined by the size of steps. We just have to be moving forward, and like you said in our baby steps, God takes leaps toward us. To know that and somehow experience that defies words and logic, but the truth usually does. Great start and I'm so glad you're joining us. Thank you.

Glynn said...

Good post, Fatha Frank. I suspect this book is going to be one wild journey. Looking forward to reading it with you.

Philip said...

I too am thankful for the "consider this" section at the end of each chapter. It's simple, but it made me stop and think about what I had just read. Great thoughts, thanks for sharing them! :-)

Sarah Salter said...

Bro, I know how you feel. And though this is my second time through the book, tonight, reading your post, God spoke to me in a new, stronger way... You quoted the scripture that says, "I am my Beloved's and His desire is for me." And I heard His Spirit say, "My desire is for YOU. Not to count your faults. Not to slap you down for your inadequacies. My desire is for YOU." If I can ever get that all the way from my head to my heart, my life will CHANGE.

Thanks for sharing, man. And remember, we're in this together. If you have needs or concerns, share them with us, even if you need to email them to us. We've been doing this long enough now that we're not strangers anymore. We're family. And we can lean on each other.

Fatha Frank said...

Thanks everyone for commenting! Already the discussion is more lively- maybe that's an indication of how the book hits us- like I said, heart versus mind. This should be an exciting ride.

Philip, welcome to the blog! I'm looking forward to your insight as well.

Sarah, you're right. We've built a little blogging community where we can lean on one another. I'm grateful for it. No specific struggles, just the business of life. What's great about the short chapters is that is forces me to slow down and ponder. I need that.