Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Furry or Fury?

I've been a fan of the comic book character Nick Fury as long as I can remember reading comics. I have a small collection of the Silver Age title Sgt Fury and the Howling Commandos which was followed by Jim Steranko's brilliant work on Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD. So obviously I was geeked out seeing Sam Jackson's post-credit cameo in the first 'Iron Man' movie.

But no matter how many times I've read the name in print, I struggle every time I hear his name in the movies. In my head, his name was always Nick 'f-uh-ree' not Nick 'fe-yur-ee". What a difference an extra r makes.

Just as jarring to me is describing the love of God with that word- fury. I think of the fury of a storm and picture its wake of destruction. I consider being furious in my heart and I see myself losing my temper. Yet I imagine the love of God and think of furry bunnies.

Imagine that little fuzzy bunny. It makes you go oooh and aaah. You want to squeeze it, pet it, snuggle with it. We treat God that way sometimes (and that level of intimacy is not necessarily a bad thing- I squeeze and snuggle my kids and I consider that one of the highest forms of affection). But we seldom describe God as Rich Mullins is quoted in Brennan Manning's book, The Furious Longing of God, "the reckless raging fury." (pg 29)

Instead of ooohs and aaahs, what reaction should we have towards a furious God? Logic would answer fear and trembling. And the Bible does talk about approaching God in such a way. But God typically defies logic. Would you approach this fury with tears of joy?

I'm not a very emotional person (except for the wrong kind of fury) yet I was moved to tears reading how Manning came to experience God's furious love- waking up on the street, reeking of vomit, hungover and in about as far from a state of grace religion could imagine for this former priest. And God still loved him.
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6-8)

God never stopped loving Brennan Manning as he was enslaved in his addiction. He never stopped loving you or me when we wander far from his loving embrace.

Manning writes, "The furious love of God knows no shadow of alteration or change. It is reliable. And always tender." (pg 34)

Always tender that furious love. God's fury is furry.

Consider this:

There is the "you" that people see and then there is the "rest of you." Take some time and craft a picture of the "rest of you." This could be a drawing, in words, even a song. Just remember that the chances are good it will be full of paradox and contradictions.

[Manning] listed some fictitious gods presented to [him] in the past: the splenetic god, the prejudiced god, the irritated god. Come up with at least one more, from your history, to help round out the list.

This post continues discussion on Brennan Manning's book, The Furious Longing of God. Please check out Jason Sasyzsen's and Sarah Salter's blogs for more discussion. The "consider this" questions come straight from the book- use them as a springboard for your own thoughts and feel free to share them here.


Anonymous said...

For me, my fictitious god would be the "distant" god. How I related to my father and how he related to me was how I saw God. Another god would be the the "policeman" god ready to catch me in a moment of error. Yet despite my view of Him, He hadn't changed His character. He was constant when my childhood years were anything but certain or constant.

Fatha Frank said...

Good call on the "policeman god". I'm partial to the Santa Claus god myself.

How comforting it is to know God is constant when our lives seem so uncertain!

Thanks for your comment!

Sarah Salter said...

I've always believed God to be kind and good and caring and loving. I just always thought that I was the exception to that. That I wasn't good enough to deserve his kindness and goodness and caring and love. I'm still coming to grips with the truth that God doesn't love me because I deserve it, but because I'm His.

Jason Stasyszen said...

We need these reminders. He's not either-or, He's both-and. He's not one way on Sunday through Wednesday and another way on Thursday through Saturday. My failures can't change God's love and neither can my successes. What a joy to know Him (in as much as I can in this moment). Thanks Frank.

HisFireFly said...

furry fury, yes, this...

a God of constance yet we see contradiction

waiting for the day when I can know Him fully and be fully known

Philip said...

I like the distinction you made between furry and fury. Quite the difference indeed and we all need to see it.