I Accidentally Fell in Love with Theology

“The only way to recoup our spiritual losses is to go back to the cause of them and make such corrections as the truth warrants.”

I read those words for the first time a few months ago. Found in the preface of A.W.  Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy—I was captured from the get-go.

If you would have told me two years ago I would be guzzling down Tozer and a three-inch-thick theology book at midnight on a Wednesday, I would have been really confused and maybe a little annoyed. I used to think theology, the study of God, was for people who traded in relationship with God for knowledge of Him. Puffed up, arrogant, argumentative… nah. I’ll keep it simple with, “Love God and love people.”

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The problem is the longer I live the more I understand that while loving God and loving people is simple, it’s not easy. Maybe because it’s kind of like… marriage.

We can all agree there are two essential ingredients to a lasting marriage: 1) keeping Christ at the center and 2) love. Lots of love. Simple, right?

Simple only if our definition of love and our view of Christ are accurate.

If those two things are off, it’s going to affect, well, everything. The truth is real love involves a willingness to forsake your ideas of what love should be and who you think your spouse is supposed to be, and if I never take the time to get to know Stone, his likes, dislikes, passions, and desires, our relationship will eventually suffer.

In the same way, it’s inevitable that our journey with God will eventually require us to trade our ideas about Him for the truth of who He says He is. And so I would say studying theology is, in part, a sort of laying down of the pieces in exchange for the whole… and this laying down has led me to a greater awe, wonder, and love for this Jesus who so mercifully transformed my life a few years ago. That, my friend, is the best part.

So, how does this relate to you, to me, practically?

I want to propose that while some difficulties we experience are the result of being human and therefore inherently flawed, some difficulties/cycles/unhealthy thought processes are the direct result of our inaccurate beliefs and ideas about God.

“What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” A.W. Tozer

Our beliefs about God matter. They’re worth the questions, digging, and wrestling because love is worth the questions, digging, and wrestling.

 I want to encourage you to submit your beliefs and yourself to something, Someone greater than yourself. Get in the Word, join a Bible study, or research different introductory books on theology if you feel like this struck home! My prayer is that for some of you, a light turns on, a flame is ignited, a hunger is born… for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. May you be willing to forsake small ideas for the Truth Himself if He leads you on a similar journey.

Ever Striving

Bitterness… have you ever tasted bitterness? I have and I can tell you this… It is the foulest thing. It’s so foul that it taints the prettiest views, moments, and people. It is poison just like they say.

Loss… have you ever felt it? I have and I can tell you this… It is the saddest thing. It’s so sad that it refuses the most joyful pleasures and drains full cups when there’s no reason to. It stings just like they say.

These things we feel

And the ways we feel them,

I guess it’s all part of what

Makes us human.

Beauty… have you ever seen it? I have and I can tell you this… It is the most healing thing. It’s so healing that it can flood places in your soul that say “DO NOT ENTER” and bring life to the deadest of senses. It is something to behold just like they say.

Hope… have you ever held it? I have and I can tell you this… It is the most freeing thing. It’s so freeing that it can make you feel like you’re on top of a mountain when you’re standing in a valley. It can make you sing when there’s no reason to and, yes, it changes everything just like they say.

These things we feel

And the ways we feel them,

I guess it’s all part of what

Makes us human.

These things we feel

And the ways we feel them,

Created in His image

Ever striving to be like Him.

I Am the Best Wife

“You are the best wife,” he said.

“You are the best husband,” she replied.

Spoken at the end of a hard day, a long day, a sad day. We reluctantly cuddled up even though we couldn’t quite get to the bottom of why we were so annoyed of each other. Sometimes life is hard because of external circumstances, and sometimes life is hard because of internal conditions. Sometimes both. In this case, life was hard because of internal conditions… expectations unmet, encouragement not given, vision seen but not close enough to touch.

It’s not that we are or were going through anything major, it’s just that this is life and this is marriage. You give, you take, you sow, you reap, and sometimes you can do everything right and still have bad days (yep, it’s true). Two imperfect people join together to form an imperfect marriage and what do you get? The highest of highs and lowest of lows, the heights of joy, the depths of sorrow, and the worst of all, too: numbness and apathy. But you’re together. That’s the comfort. Not that you don’t go through things, but that you go through things with someone you love and with someone who loves you. I wouldn’t want to go through easy seasons, hard seasons, or apathetic seasons with anyone else.

Hearing you’re the best wife when you feel the least deserving is humbling, redeeming, and healing. Me telling him he’s the best husband when I feel he’s the least deserving is also humbling, redeeming, and healing. Muttering those words closed the distance between our hearts because that is what grace does, it covers blemishes, fills gaps, and offers us a new perspective.

I can’t help but think of Jesus, telling me I’m new, loved, whole, forgiven and redeemed over and over again. And even on the days when I don’t feel I am any of those things, it is still true. That is grace.

To my husband and my husband only, I am the best wife. And grace is that even when I try so hard and come up short, I still am.

“You are the best wife,” he said.

“You are the best husband,” she replied.

A Secret to Joy

Over the past year, there’s only been one book, besides the Bible ;), that’s kept my attention long enough for me to (almost) finish it. That book is called One Thousand Gifts and it’s by a woman named Ann Voskamp. Her writing is raw, eloquent, and captivating.

I had a pretty rough year (yep, being engaged/married doesn’t fix all of your problems… However, having someone there who loves you with their whole heart does make the journey from pain to wholeness easier), and only the essentials (Jesus, His Word, and God-appointed relationships) made the cut in my life. You learn to get back to the basics: being thankful for every sunrise, salvation, and God’s love. My lofty revelation for the year was probably just that I need Jesus, every day.

Anyways, I felt pretty numb and empty on and off for quite some time. It felt like I couldn’t “do” enough to fix myself… and the truth is, I still can’t. And neither can you. Only God can do that.

Long story short, I thank God today because I can truly say that He has delivered me from so much heaviness. His joy is truly my strength and I know that He can heal the deepest wounds and reach the darkest places in us, in anyone. My heart is for the people whose hearts are full of pain and nobody knows. It is the world we are living in… whether it’s a homeless woman or a wealthy man in a suit: pain is universal. And yet, God’s love is greater… Anyone who calls on Him will be saved in the whole sense.

Thank you GOD for Your love and mercy!

I asked but never searched

Wandered but never dug 

For answers and sometimes

for anything at all 

 

I begged but never thanked

Cried out but never waited 

 For a sign and sometimes

for anything at all

 

To all the places that I’ve been

where I didn’t think You were

and all the moments I’ve spent wondering

when You were always sure,

 

I’ve opened my eyes to see that You 

weren’t so hidden after all. 

 

No, not so hidden after all. 

Inspired by a quote from One Thousand Gifts:
“The secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.” 

One Life Source

So there’s probably a blog or a book or a sermon out there that poses the same idea that popped into my head this morning… I wish it was original and revolutionary, but I’m not in denial. Someone else will probably say it better than me too if they haven’t already.

I don’t know about you, but when I wake up feeling heavy or feel like I’m in a rut or need breakthrough, I run to a lot of things before I cling to Jesus. And what I mean by that is… If I woke up heavy in a village with no electricity, none of my current “methods” would work.

..turn on a podcast

..turn on my “It’s A New Season” or “REVIVAL” playlist

..watch one of Beth Moore’s weekly teachings

..YouTube a teaching by someone new if I want to mix things up a little

Yeah, it’s safe to say I’d be in trouble in a village in the middle of nowhere.

The thing is, we have the world of teaching, worship music, etc. at our fingertips because of technology. Just type what you want to learn about in the search engine and bam… charismatic, conservative, Baptist, non-denominational, you can have it all. We can research a 5-step process that will get us out of our pit or we can read about how there is no 5-step process for escaping trials.

We consume mass amounts of information and knowledge because our souls are desperate for truth and freedom, but what did people do before technology?!And, on another, hold-your-breath, note… what about people who don’t even have the Bible?!

…There has to be something more, another life source, that is available to all men and women, with and without technology, with or without the Bible even, and that life source is Jesus Himself… HIM! (Side note: I believe the Word of God is living and should be consumed daily, but I also don’t believe our time in the Word should replace time spent with the Word Himself).

I’m by no means saying we shouldn’t or can’t use technology as a means to grow spiritually, but when it comes time to be intimate with our Father, there should be nothing that stands between us, good or bad, nothing to lean on… it’s about HIM and me, no intermediaries besides Jesus.

Sometimes we need to shut down the technology and stand alone, bare, in a room before our Father… laying down any ideas about Him we’ve gained for the sake of knowing Him in His fullness and in turn being fully known ourselves. 

Fearing God

Ok… I know this is a subject we can all relate to. How many times have you heard your grandma or grandpa say something along the lines of, “That boy just needs some fear of the Lord to set him straight” or “Nothing like the fear of the Lord to come shake you up” (in order to get the full effect, please repeat these phrases back to yourself with a southern accent).

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I could be wrong, but I think we’ve accepted an idea about fearing God that doesn’t necessarily reflect His nature. We are commanded to fear God in scripture, so why is there such a negative connotation attached to this command? And maybe that’s not the case for whoever reads this, but it has been for me. I didn’t realize until recently that I subconsciously thought the fear of the Lord meant walking on eggshells waiting for that “great and terrible” moment.

…but, of course, the Lord has come to change my mind. That’s what He does, right? He is on a constant pursuit to reveal His character so that we’ll change our minds (repent) from our ideas about who we think He is. He wants us to actually know Him. 

The fear of the Lord isn’t an emotion of fear, it’s a mindset, and it’s beautiful. It releases us into a life fully lived. It is a constant awareness, a constant knowing… that we will stand before One and not many. Someday we will not come before the accusations, judgments, and slander that slides off the tongues of men. We will come before a loving, just, holy, righteous, merciful Father.

I believe we’ll all have a moment in this life in which we’re forced to decide who it is that we’re truly living for, and I don’t think God orchestrates this moment as a test so much as He does because He loves us (though He does test those whom He loves). He knows that without the Fear of the Lord, we’ll be bound to the accusations that come against us in this life, to the words that come like arrows to our souls.

At the end of the day, we’ll seek the approval of whoever it is that we fear… we will crave the praise of whoever’s approval it is that we’re seeking. But if we learn to exalt Him high above all the other voices in our life, we will find… life. His word says so.

“In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, 

And his children  will have a place of refuge. 

The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, 

to turn one away from the snares of death.”

Proverbs 14:26-27