Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Running to Marvel
My small group (Bible study group from church which meets every other Sunday night) recently decided to start reading "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. We finished our study of Joshua and were trying to decide what to study next. I was leaning more toward another book in the Bible. I find that I often get bored with what other people have to say about the Bible, so I figured it was better for me to go straight to the source.
A few people in our group spoke very highly of this book and one even read a review about it out loud for the rest of us. It sounded pretty good. And if what it said was true (that God is calling us to a passionate relationship with Him and that He is bigger than we may realize, etc), it could be pretty life changing. That, added to the fact that I'd have to keep up with the reading in order to discuss it on Sunday nights, along with the fact that Jason and I would read it together - I was in and I ordered my book the next day.
Last night as Jason got ready for bed, I read the introduction by Chris Tomlin and the preface. It sounded pretty good still...maybe a bit scary...but mostly good. Scary because it might move me to change and well...I like how things are just fine. Are things exactly like they should be? Probably not. Is it possible to live a much more powerful life if my relationship with God were more than it is now? Definitely. But changing...moving away from my comfortable little life into something that might be...hard? I don't know.
I do know it is worth it to try, however, and so I intend to give it a go. One chapter at a time.
When Jason came to bed, I read aloud the preface and the first part of the first chapter. I really liked what I read. The first chapter is titled "Stop Praying" and what I got from it so far is this: We (humans) are quick to talk to (at) God, but do we really know Who we are talking to? Do we really have an understanding of Who He is? So, my first assignment is to marvel at Him and to witness just how big and amazing He is. Francis reminds readers that the majesty and glory of God is all around for our viewing pleasure, and he gives several examples of this. He also references this video, which I just watched today. And let me just say here that the book says all of this MUCH better than my little synopsis in this paragraph.
So this morning, I woke up with the words in that first chapter still in my mind. I was a little disappointed to have missed my morning run due to the crazy storms because it is when I run that I find it so easy to marvel at God. I witness His mornings, and each one is different and beautiful. Each sunrise paints a different picture across the sky. The birds have different songs to sing, and there is no telling which ones we will hear while out running. You might think there isn't much to see running through southern suburbia, but there is plenty.
As I drove to work in the cold, windy and wet morning, I thought "You've picked a great day to focus on marveling." But then I noticed the clouds in all shades of gray, in all shapes and sizes, moving across the sky. I noticed how everything glistened in the wetness, and the sounds the water made when I drove over it. When I got out of my car, sure it was cold and damp, but even the parking lot smelled good after so much rain. And then to ponder just how our atmosphere works to create rain in the first place, and that my God came up with all of that... Yes, even on the nastiest November day, there was plenty at which to marvel and see the greatness of my God.
I thought about the movie "Eat, Pray, Love" which was made from the book of the same title. I started that book too, but had to put it down once she went to India to learn to meditate. It was just too feely, move-to-the-light-ish for me, and I tend to think God wants a bit more for (and from) us than happiness. But I watched the movie anyway because I figured they'd romanticize and condense it, and because I like Julia Roberts.
There is a part of the movie, after she leaves her husband (because she is not happy), where she tells her boss that she wants to marvel at something. To do this, she wants to go to Italy, India, and Bali in search of...things at which to marvel. And as the movie portrays, there is plenty there to see. The food, the languages, the fountains, the landscape, the weather. But if that is what it takes to truly marvel over something, I'm afraid most of us are out of luck. Unless we learn to marvel where we are. Unless we open our eyes, take a look around and see it. Because I believe it is there. I believe it is all over the place in Madison, Alabama. Just like happiness, I believe we can find it anywhere and in any circumstance. It may take a bit more looking, but I know it is there.
My drive to work was only 20 minutes long. I listened to the radio, sipped my coffee, and tried to take in the marvelous that was this gray, rainy day. I succeeded. I intend to continue this exercise. Instead of talking to (or at) God in my usual sporadic manner, I'm going to be silent for a while, look at what He has done and see more of Who He is. I'm going to keep reading this book too. I'm going to do my running this week with the purpose of marveling at everything it entails, from my own body and what it is made to do, to my surroundings, to the company I keep or the solitude.
I'll let you know how it goes.