Thursday, December 31, 2020

Reverse Costco Effect

“For we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you. Indeed, everything is for your benefit so that, as grace extends through more and more people, it may cause thanksgiving to increase to the glory of God.  Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.  So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:14‭-‬18 CSB


Years ago,

When I was able to (gasp

Go to a store,

Load up a cart,

Unload it into my car,

Move the bags and boxes into the house,

All by myself,


In that time so different from my present,

An odd thing occurred

Enough times

That it earned itself a name.


In the vast chasm of a warehouse,

I would add to my cart some throw pillows,

A doormat perhaps,

A box of frozen chipotle black bean burgers.

Among the lofty rafters

Where a helium balloon would be lost forever,

Among the aisles long enough to cheer

Any fitness tracker,

The things in my cart seemed perfectly Goldilocks in size,

Just right.


Somewhere between the store and home—

Did I pass through a magic portal?—

Those perfectly normal items transmogrified.

When I brought them inside,

They were too big for the sofa,

The freezer,

The front porch.


How had this happened?

We finally concluded

Context was key.

The warehouse dwarfed the purchases,

Making them seem smaller than they were.

Our home shrank the context

And expanded our perception of size.

An elephant overwhelms a powder room

But finds room to roam on an African savannah.

This phenomenon we dubbed

“The Costco Effect.”


These last few months,

One idea I’ve been preaching to myself,

Overwriting the false story with the True,

Is that the Bible presents a reverse Costco Effect

Regarding our sufferings.


The sorrows which seem,

And indeed are,

So great and overwhelming

In this tiny house,

One-person tent

Of a life,

Can truly be called “light and momentary”

By the apostle Paul

(Who had endured more than I)

Because he had seen them in the third heaven,

The vast landscape of eternity,

That indescribable,

Incomparable weight of glory.


“Therefore we do not lose heart,”

He wrote,

Because in the pages of our Bibles

We can see that invisible vista.

We can behold in words,

Through a glass darkly,

The shadowy pictures of how great,



The kingdom of heaven will be.


When we behold that reality

With resurrected eyes,

Walk the golden streets

With resurrected feet

And ankles that don’t need braces,

Sing praises with resurrected voices

That stay in tune

And don’t crack on E-flat—


When we trade our mourning for joy

In the presence of the Lamb

Our Savior—


Is it just possible,

That when we see the splendid sequoias

Sprung from the very seeds of our sorrows,

That we will fall on our faces

And regret

(If regret were possible)

That we had not suffered more?


Is it just possible

That the unbearable burdens

We struggle even to roll off our backs

Onto His

In this annus mirabilis

Will seem miniscule when

Dwarfed by their proper context?


Is it just possible

That gazing at that possibility

With eyes of faith

Until we can gaze

With eyes of flesh,

Will make firm our weak hands

And make strong our feeble knees

Even now,

So we can rise again when morning dawns

And keep treading

In the footsteps of our Savior?


This hope rooted in promise,

Anchored in truth,

Keeps me fighting for joy.

No tear will be lost,

No sorrow wasted,

But all are producing for us

An exceeding and eternal

Weight of glory

Beyond our best imaginings.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Unprecedented {A Poem}


Worlds, stars, atoms, galaxies,

Spoken into being—


Roses, bluebonnets, honeysuckle, ferns;

Holly trees, and giant redwoods;

Kangaroos, giraffes, grizzly bears, hummingbirds, and dachshunds;

Swordfish, catfish, octopi, whales,

All created with a “Let there be”—


The first human shaped by God from dirt,

Life breathed into that mudpie man by the Potter—


The first rain filling the deepest ravines,

Overwhelming the tallest mountain peaks,

A lone family afloat in the quarantine deluge—


Abram called from his homeland,

His wife a nonagenarian first-time mom,

Their promised son on the altar,

The knife raised,

A ram in the brambles offered in his stead—


God’s chosen people delivered to Egypt from famine,

Then delivered into slavery to Pharaoh,

Their deliverer born in secret, raised in Pharaoh’s house,

Called out of hiding in the wilderness

To lead God’s people out of Egypt

With ten devastating plagues—


40 years of trekking through the wilderness,

Led and sheltered by the fire-cloud pillar of God’s glory—


City walls collapsing with  shout and trumpet blast—


A shepherd boy, the giant-slayer with the slingshot,

The man after God’s own heart,

Receiving kingdom and covenant—


A gilded temple whose true splendor was the shekinah glory-fire of God

Descending as the king prayed its dedication—


That temple defiled by false sacrifices to false gods,

The glory exchanged for worthless vanity—


A nation chosen by God sent into exile for her sins,

Preserved and protected even in captivity—


The sulky spokesperson cast into the storm,

Into the sea,

Into the stomach of the great fish,

Outspat upon a beach,

Given a second chance

To proclaim judgment and repentance to his people’s enemies—


Those enemies submitting themselves,

Repenting in sackcloth

From the king to the stables—


Another prophet sharing a safe sleepover with a pride of ravenous lions—


Three faithful Hebrews thrown into a furnace so hot it killed their escort,

Four men walking freely in the fire,

Three emerging unsinged, without even a whiff of smoke on their robes—


That wayward people brought back miraculously to the land of promise,

Rebuilding financed by Nehemiah’s royal employer—


Promised forerunner born to a priest and his barren wife,

Grey hair, wrinkles, and prenatal vitamins—


Very God of Very God, Light of Light,

Enshrouding Himself in an embryo,

Implanted in the darkness of a virgin’s womb,

Waiting for nine months,

Submitting Himself to the violent rigors of birth,

Submitting Himself to the authority of sinful human parents,

Submitting Himself to the unjust slander against his parents and the timing of His birth,

“The carpenter’s Son” (wink, wink)—


The God-Man living a perfect life,

Dying the death we sinners deserve,

Submitting Himself to pain and mockery again,

Rising from the tomb on the third day for our justification—


Ten dozen men and women

Praying in an upper room

Setting the world ablaze with good news

When the Spirit of their Savior lit them with tongues of fire—


In this unprecedented year,

So full of unprecedented challenges and griefs,

Let us cling to the comfort of the many times “unprecedented” has been

The signature of God scrawled across the pages of history.

May He work unprecedented glories from this unprecedented year.


Aslan is on the move, friends.

Courage, dear hearts!  


~crlm, 12/14/20

Thursday, December 17, 2020

"Lesson One" in the Graduate School of Faith

New missionary Betty Howard set about her first assignment at the mission station on the edge of the jungle of Ecuador. She had already learned Spanish and now sought to learn the indigenous Quichua language in order to translate the New Testament for the people she longed to reach with the gospel of Christ.

In answer to prayer, God provided her with the one human who knew both Quichua and Spanish. Hallelujah! This man became Betty's informant in her linguistic journey.

Then one day, as she sat at her desk with her Bible and journal, her informant was murdered within earshot. Her hopes of progress in Quichua were dashed in that wasteful destruction of life.

Betty's biographer Ellen Vaughn writes of this crisis:

"It was Betty's 'lesson one' in the graduate school of faith . . . 'my first experience of having to bow down before that which I could not possibly explain. Usually we need not bow. We can simply ignore the unexplainable because we have other things to occupy our minds. We sweep it under the rug. We evade the questions. Faith's most severe tests come not when we see nothing, but when we see a stunning array of evidence that seems to prove our faith vain. If God were God, if He were omnipotent, if He had cared, would this have happened? Is this that I face now the ratification of my calling, the reward of obedience? One turns in disbelief again from the circumstances and looks into the abyss. But in the abyss there is only blackness, no glimmer of light, no answering echo.'

"'It was a long time before I came to the realization that it is in our acceptance of what is given that God gives Himself.'" (Ellen Vaughn and Joni Eareckson Tada, Becoming Elisabeth Elliot)

Not so very long thereafter, Betty Howard became Betty Elliot. This hard lesson was one of God's preparations for the harder lesson of her young husband Jim's violent death at the hands of the Waodani people. Of the five women widowed by that event, she was the one tasked with writing the martyrs' story for publication. It was then, on the cover of her first book, that she became known to the watching world as Elisabeth Elliot. But first she was just Betty, in the jungle, wrestling with God's painful providence that seemed to be at odds with God's calling on her life.

The lessons she learned then and recorded in her journals are still helping me decades later:
"It was a long time before I came to the realization that it is in our acceptance of what is given that God gives Himself."

May the Lord bring us all to the open-handed acceptance of God's gift of Himself.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Sehnsucht Season

Sehnsucht: noun (German), yearning, longing, pining

The weary, watching world,

An empty womb,

Awaits with longing the Coming One

We love yet have not seen.

We long for the Yule-less winter

To break into carillon peals

And joyful carols:

“Behold! Our beloved Bridegroom comes!”


The yearning overtakes us with lengthening darkness,

A sweet, painful wistfulness

That stings as we inhale the fragrance of a rose--

When we gaze at clouds like angel’s wings

With rainbow-fragment nimbus--

Or hear the clarinet melody that feels

Like homesickness for a home

I’ve never inhabited--

Or feel the hint of Great Lion’s mane

Brushing against my arm

In some obedience of love--

Or hear the faint tinkle of our High Priest’s

Bells between the pomegranates

At the hem of His robe

As He continually intercedes for us--

Or catch the merest hint of athelas on the wind.

The numinous encroaches on the fringes of our thoughts,

Alluring our hearts on pilgrimage

To a better country,

And a heavenly one.


Abiding in this emptiness,

Dwelling in the lamentful longing,

Feeling the exquisite ache

Without rushing to fill the hollow

Of sehnsucht

With earthly anodynes:

This is our Advent prayer.

Friday, December 11, 2020

C. S. Lewis on Longing for the Far-Off Country

"These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. [14] For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. [15] If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. [16] But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city" (Hebrews 11:13–16, ESV).

 "In speaking of this desire for our own far-off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you--the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedience is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth's expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came and what came through them was longing. These things--the beauty, the memory of our own past--are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years. Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice; almost all our modern philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth. And yet it is a remarkable thing that such philosophies of Progress or Creative Evolution themselves bear reluctant witness to the truth that our real goal is elsewhere. When they want to convince you that earth is your home, notice how they set about it. They begin by trying to persuade you that earth can be made into heaven, thus giving a sop to your sense of exile in earth as it is. Next, they tell you that this fortunate event is still a good way off in the future, thus giving a sop to your knowledge that the fatherland is not here and now. Finally, lest your longing for the transtemporal should awake and spoil the whole affair, they use any rhetoric that comes to hand to keep out of your mind the recollection that even if all the happiness they promised could come to man on earth, yet still each generation would lose it by death, including the last generation of all, and the whole story would be nothing, not even a story, for ever and ever."

~C. S. Lewis, "The Weight of Glory," The Weight of Glory, pp. 31-32, emphasis mine

Monday, December 7, 2020

Exile. {A Poem}



To Babylon—

Daniel glimpsed the eternal kingdom,

Ancient of Days,

In the collapse of his own.

Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah encountered

Christ before Bethlehem

In the furnace of sevenfold heat.

Ezekiel beheld shekinah glory of God

And the Temple yet to be

From the banks of the Chebar canal.



To Patmos—

Excluded from the gathering of the church,

Extracted from home and kin,

John witnessed the worship of multitudes.

The glory of God invaded his exile

With visions of the new Jerusalem,

The Lamb its light and temple,

Where no more salty sea can separate,

Where no more salty tears are shed.


Exiled, they encountered their God.

Exiled from earthly home, they glimpsed the heavenly.

Exiled, they dwelt enfolded in God’s wings,

Enclosed in His embrace.


Shall I go on?

Abraham, Joseph, Moses,

Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther—

And the Lord Jesus Christ Himself—

All testify from the great cloud of witnesses

To God’s faithfulness

In the land of their sojourn.


Exiled—not from home

But to home—

Exiled from society

To disorienting, familiar walls,

Same places,  new purposes;

New rhythms, routines, habits, hardships;

New calendar—

Time stretching, contracting, collapsing in on itself.


In exile idols topple;

Sins bubble over.

Dross rises in the heat of tribulation,

In the crucible of confinement.


In exile, will we encounter God?

In exile, will we long for heavenly Home?

In exile, will we rest enfolded in His wings,

Enclosed in His embrace?

Or will we rebel like the Israelites

When God said, “Yield: trust me,”

And they fled to Egypt for help.

We will not emerge unchanged in any choice.

(No caterpillar ever emerged from a chrysalis.)


And emerge we will.

Likely not after seventy years

Or four hundred thirty, 

As Israel did,

But in God’s time He will again 

Extrude us into formerly familiar

Rhythms, routines, habits, hardships.

What will we carry with us out of exile?

Dross or gold?

Bitterness or the blessing

Of an encounter with the glorious God?


God’s exilic faithfulness

Could engender

Enduring fruitfulness

To the transformation

Of untold post-exilic generations.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

The Unchangeable Love of God


“The love of God is like himself—


                                  Not capable of augmentation or diminishing.

It is like the sun,

               Always the same in its light,

               Though a cloud may sometimes interpose.

On whom the Father fixes his love,

He loves unto the end....

“As God manifests a sense of his love to us

It seems various and changeable;

              Sometimes more, sometimes less;

Now he shines

Then he hides his face,

              As it may be for our profit.

Our Father will not always chide,

                          Lest we be cast down;

He does not always smile,

                    Lest we become full and neglect him:

but yet, still his love in itself is the same.

              When for a little moment he hides his face,

Yet he gathers us with everlasting kindness....

“He loves us because he will;

There was and is nothing in us for which we should be beloved.

His love is unchangeable:

Though we change every day,

Yet his love does not.”

~John Owen, Works, 11:29-34, quoted in Voices from the Past, Vol II

Monday, November 30, 2020

The Unhinged Soul’s Best Friend

"A good man in devout prayer can spread his hopes and his joys before the Lord as well as his sorrows, fears, and distresses. Here at the mercy seat we may confess how great our sins are, and pray for pardoning grace. As we draw near, we can tell him... how the world strikes at our senses, ears, eyes, and outward faculties to draw us away from God our best friend.... I can share my perplexity of mind, and that I realize how few hours I devote in my communion with him. I would tell him of my temporal troubles and spread before him all the sorrows and vexations of life that unhinge my soul from its centre and throw me off my guard. I would not go away without a word for my family and friends that are far from God, and put in a word of petition for them that are careless. I would weep for my children, brothers or sisters, that they might be brought near to him. Why do we delight to tell him all of our circumstances and sorrows?—Because he is our best friend, and it soothes the soul to unburden our cares in the bosom of a friend. This is the noblest and highest friendship. Amazing grace of God to man! Rejoice in this, and delight in all opportunity to employ and improve it."
~Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

The soul-naked, gut-honest
Emptying the junk drawer of my heart—
Comes hard these days.
These obdurate days,
I guard my bruised and frangible heart
As I favor a wounded limb.
My rational self knows no need
To protect myself from my Father,
But what of grief is rational?
This tender heart fears—
If the guard comes down—
The ache would overflow
In torrents of unshed tears.
Here I am again, Lord,
Shedding my armor
Of avoidance and distraction
At the foot of your throne of grace,
To receive the merciful medicine
These hard days need.

~crlm, 11/17/20

Monday, November 23, 2020

Becoming Elisabeth Elliot {A Book Review}

“All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.”

Hebrews 11:39-40 CSB


In my youth and young adulthood, a family-owned Christian bookstore operated so near home that I could ride my bike there to spend my babysitting money. Amid the theologically diverse content of its shelves, God led me to Elisabeth Elliot as one of my first mentors in the Christian faith. Through her I found Amy Carmichael. I wanted to know God like those women knew God. I wanted to be greatly used by Him. They were my heroes.


What naivete hid from me was the extraordinarily high, painful cost of their mature faith.


In the half-dozen times I saw Elisabeth Elliot speak, in all her books I read, in her radio program Gateway to Joy, in her quarterly newsletter, she seemed so logical. Unemotional even. Her calm, collected, reserved demeanor as she talked of the loss of her first husband to martyrdom (at the hands of a remote tribe he sought to reach with the gospel) amazed me. When she wrote or spoke of the loss of her second husband to cancer, I mistook her poise in speaking for her poise in grief. Now I understand the softening effect of decades that enabled her to touch the scars without observably wincing. That never meant thewounds that caused them were without profound sorrow.


The new biography Becoming Elisabeth Elliot (Amazon affiliate link) corrects that misunderstanding and does so largely in Elisabeth’s own words, from copious journals and letters to which the family gave biographer Ellen Vaughn access. Vaughn shapes the source material in a way that brings the young Elisabeth to vibrant life. All the emotion I didn’t see from Elisabeth in her later speaking ministry pours forth on these pages.


We glimpse the family of her youth, read the story of how she came to attend a prestigious Christian boarding school and what she found there, experience with her the agonizing wait for Jim to declare his affections and act on them. Vaughn lifts the curtain on Elisabeth’s grief when he died, how that led her to a writing career, what her jungle life as a single mother and missionary was like, and some of the interpersonal friction that grew so severe and unresolvable that Elisabeth left the jungle and returned to the United States.


This is not a hagiography that only selects and shares what will keep Elisabeth on the pedestal where many of us have placed her. This is realism. Do not be deceived into thinking a missionary biography will be boring, either. This is a page-turner in a way I did not anticipate, even knowing and loving her work as I do.


In short, this is one of my must-reads of 2020. If you love Elisabeth Elliot already, this will increase your affection. If you don’t know her work and story, this would be a fabulous introduction to the rest of her work. Along with Gentle and Lowly, it will find its way into a number of Christmas care packages in the month ahead. I look forward to the planned second volume, which picks up the story of her life after the jungle years.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Oaks in Process

Inside each fallen acorn dwell
A thousand million mighty oaks. 
In death to self, the soul bears fruit
In exponential grace on grace.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Manna Words

And he said, "O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage." And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, "Let my Lord speak, for you have strengthened me."
Daniel 10:19 ESV

O Lord, here we are again, ragamuffins desperately opening Your Word in search of manna to carry us through. Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord. Speak love, peace, strength, and courage into us from Your truth. Sanctify us in Your truth; Your Word is truth (John 17:17). Keep our ears tuned to Your voice throughout this day, and bring to our minds the verse or hymn every moment requires. Grant us grace to unclench fists and hearts and yield fully to You in trust. In Jesus' name, amen.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Gentle and Lowly {A Book Review}

One of my favorite C. S. Lewis quotes comes from the preface to his book 
The Problem of Pain“…when pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all. The newest offering by Dane OrtlundGentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers (Crossway, 2020), offers more than a little courage, profound human sympathy, and an overflowing abundance of the love of God. It is the soul medicine God knew we needed to rest in Him in these tumultuous and Homesick times. This is a book for ragamuffins, black sheep, and dutiful disciples in desperate need of fresh wonder at the glorious grace of God in Christ. In short, it is my favorite book of 2020 to this point.

Ortlund’s thinking has clearly been steeped in the Puritans’ writings as well as the Scriptures. He often quotes their work, especially Thomas Goodwin and Richard Sibbes, but not in an intimidating or academic way. Instead, it’s like sharing a meal with a well-read friend who is so captivated by these books that he can’t help himself from sharing the joy of his favorite passages.


The writing is beautiful, companionable, sometimes funny, and often moving. The last non-fiction book that brought tears to my eyes the way this one did was F. B. Meyer’s The Shepherd Psalm, and that read was 5 years ago. Ortlund’s prose reaches the wounded places of the heart with healing balm. As soon as I finished,  I wanted to read it over again. Truly, it is that good and a well-timed help.


Here are a few of my favorite passages:



This book is written for the discouraged, the frustrated, the weary, the disenchanted, the cynical, the empty. Those running on fumes. Those whose Christian lives feel like constantly running up a descending escalator. Those of us who find ourselves thinking: How could I mess up that bad—again? It is for that increasing suspicion that God’s patience with us is wearing thin. For those of us who know God loves us but suspect we have deeply disappointed him. Who have told others of the love of Christ yet wonder if—as for us—he harbors mild resentment. Who wonder if we have shipwrecked our lives beyond what can be repaired. Who are convinced we’ve permanently diminished our usefulness to the Lord. Who have been swept off our feet by perplexing pain and are wondering how we can keep living under such numbing darkness. Who look at our lives and know how to interpret the data only by concluding that God is fundamentally parsimonious. It is written, in other words, for normal Christians. In short, it is for sinners and sufferers” (Kindle location 146).



But I am a great sinner, say you. I will in no wise cast out,says Christ. But I am an old sinner, say you. I will in no wise cast out, says Christ. But I am a hard-hearted sinner, say you. I will in no wise cast out, says Christ. But I am a backsliding sinner, say you. I will in no wise cast out, says Christ. But I have served Satan all my days, say you. I will in no wise cast out, says Christ.  But I have sinned against light, say you. I will in no wise cast out, says Christ. But I have sinned against mercy, say you. I will in no wise cast out, says Christ.  But I have no good thing to bring with me, say you. ‘I will in no wise cast out,’ says Christ. This promise was provided to answer all objections, and does answer them” (quoting John Bunyan, Kindle location 756).



Have we considered the loveliness of the heart of Christ? Perhaps beauty is not a category that comes naturally to mind when we think about Christ. Maybe we think of God and Christ in terms of truth, not beauty. But the whole reason we care about sound doctrine is for the sake of preserving God’s beauty, just as the whole reason we care about effective focal lenses on a camera is to capture with precision the beauty we photograph. Let Jesus draw you in through the loveliness of his heart. This is a heart that upbraids the impenitent with all the harshness that is appropriate, yet embraces the penitent with more openness than we are able to feel. It is a heart that walks us into the bright meadow of the felt love of God. It is a heart that drew the despised and forsaken to his feet in self-abandoning hope. It is a heart of perfect balance and proportion, never overreacting, never excusing, never lashing out. It is a heart that throbs with desire for the destitute. It is a heart that floods the suffering with the deep solace of shared solidarity in that suffering. It is a heart that is gentle and lowly. So let the heart of Jesus be something that is not only gentle toward you but lovely to you. If I may put it this way: romance the heart of Jesus. All I mean is, ponder him through his heart. Allow yourself to be allured. Why not build in to your life unhurried quiet, where, among other disciplines, you consider the radiance of who he actually is, what animates him, what his deepest delight is? Why not give your soul room to be reenchanted with Christ time and again? When you look at the glorious older saints in your church, how do you think they got there? Sound doctrine, yes. Resolute obedience, without a doubt. Suffering without becoming cynical, for sure. But maybe another reason, maybe the deepest reason, is that they have, over time, been won over in their deepest affections to a gentle Savior. Perhaps they have simply tasted, over many years, the surprise of a Christ for whom their very sins draw him in rather than push him away. Maybe they have not only known that Jesus loved them but felt it” (Kindle location 1222).


Christ’s heart for us means that he will be our never-failing friend no matter what friends we do or do not enjoy on earth. He offers us a friendship that gets underneath the pain of our loneliness. While that pain does not go away, its sting is made fully bearable by the far deeper friendship of Jesus. He walks with us through every moment. He knows the pain of being betrayed by a friend, but he will never betray us. He will not even so much as coolly welcome us. That is not who he is. That is not his heart. (Kindle location 1493).


To you I say, do you know what Jesus does with those who squander his mercy? He pours out more mercy. God is rich in mercy. That’s the whole point. Whether we have been sinned against or have sinned ourselves into misery, the Bible says God is not tightfisted with mercy but openhanded, not frugal but lavish, not poor but rich. That God is rich in mercy means that your regions of deepest shame and regret are not hotels through which divine mercy passes but homes in which divine mercy abides. It means the things about you that make you cringe most, make him hug hardest. It means his mercy is not calculating and cautious, like ours. It is unrestrained, flood-like, sweeping, magnanimous. It means our haunting shame is not a problem for him, but the very thing he loves most to work with. It means our sins do not cause his love to take a hit. Our sins cause his love to surge forward all the more. It means on that day when we stand before him, quietly, unhurriedly, we will weep with relief, shocked at how impoverished a view of his mercy-rich heart we had. (Kindle location 2290).



This is a book about the heart of Christ and of God. But what are we to do with this? The main answer is, nothing. To ask, Now how do I apply this to my life?’ would be a trivialization of the point of this study. If an Eskimo wins a vacation to a sunny place, he doesn’t arrive in his hotel room, step out onto the balcony, and wonder how to apply that to his life. He just enjoys it. He just basks. But there is one thing for us to do. Jesus says it in Matthew 11:28. Come to me.

“Go to him. All that means is, open yourself up to him. Let him love you. The Christian life boils down to two steps: 1. Go to Jesus. 2. See #1. (Kindle location  2739, 2749)



(Note: Crossway provided me a complimentary digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review posted to an online bookstore.)

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