As we conclude Brennan Manning's book The Furious Longing of God, I'm left thinking and feeling, "well, what does it look like?" Manning gives us plenty of anecdotal examples from a father reconciling with his son, to Don Quixote's pursuit of Dulcinea; from his own story of redemption to Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. But as Manning often cites as an obstacle for these experiences, my head gets in the way of my heart.
It is easy to understand Manning's description of "being in that boat as the storm hits" (pg 130) just as I can read about the disciples' fear with Jesus napping in the boat- the moment forced them (and us in our storms) to call on Jesus' name.
But personally have I ever experienced anything like "a certainty of God's longing for intimacy unlike anything you've felt in hand-clapping worship or anointed Scripture studies"? (pg 130) I struggle to identify with that. Even as I reflect upon My Story, I "know" God was reaching out to me through my circumstances, my relationships (and lack thereof), in spite of my choices at the time. I know he was breaking up hard ground in order to receive a seed that could grow.
I remember as I was visiting different colleges for graduate school the strong feeling of I had as I was driving home from one: I have to go here- God wants me here. Little did I understand at the time, at the same time on the other side of the country another young man was questioning God over drinks at a bar, determined to find him on his own terms not his family's, and as he was resolving this in his heart he looked up and saw a neon sign for Boulder Beer and knew where he was going to go to school.
Had he not made that choice, we would not have been teaching assistants together. We would not have become great friends. And he would not have been there to share the Gospel with me after he found what he was looking for. Had I chosen to go somewhere else, who knows what God would have done in His pursuit of me?
Or I can relate to how my wife and I got married. Often we describe courtship as either chivalrous, showering with gifts and bending over backwards to win our love, or aloof and mysterious, not showing too much emotion, not giving too much away, leaving the other longing for more. I fell in a third category- the clueless. My wife knew even before our first date that I was "the one" and was utterly convinced by the second. I needed a bit more time.
I think of God's longing not like my clumsy uncertain pursuit of my wife, but rather as her love for me. She knew all along, but she waited for me to recognize it for myself. Isn't that how it is with God? He chose us before the creation of the world, but he patiently waits for us to come to our own convictions, to fall in love with him on our own.
Maybe he reaches out to each of us differently-some with a booming voice from heaven, others with patient silence- knowing to what exactly we will respond. But there is no doubt in my mind that God pursued me, and continues to do so.
Looking back, how do you see God pursuing you? Would you describe that pursuit as "furious"?
This post concludes our 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.