My hope for this post is for it to come full circle by the end…
… so for a little back story, I have been reading a lot of Christian fiction lately, most notably Ted Dekker. Ted Dekker writes the Circle Series which was suggested to me by a friend who had received the suggestion from our chiropractor. (From what I've read online, this series was meant to be a trilogy and the trilogy is years old, but at the bequest of many fans, the series now contains a FOURTH book in it called "Green". I've read the first three but haven't read the fourth as yet.)
It's been a long time since I've written a book review, and that isn't the intent of this post, but I feel I need to provide a few key points about this series to tie it to the overall intent of this post. The Circle Series centers around Tom Hunter/Thomas of Hunter, the main character of the novels. After a series of events, he finds that he is living in two different realities which exist when he dreams – in other words, when he dreams here, he is living there, and vice versa. One of the realities is "the future" and the other is "history". In one reality, he is a washed up kid in need of a purpose and without God, and in another reality, his purpose IS God (who is called Elyon in the books).
One of the key takeaways from these books is The Great Romance, as it is called in the books. One would be a fool not to realize the parallels between the story of this series and the actual expectation we have as Christians to be in a relationship with Jesus. A relationship… yes, but also to realize God is Love, God loves us, and we are his people, his church, his bride. He loves us that much; He loved us so much that he died for us; He wants us to love Him in return and to love others as well.
Another key point is that we have to be vigilant in maintaining this relationship – it requires prayer, being in His word, being with His people. We cannot simply say that we know and believe and live according to that without maintenance. Plainly in this book when His people began to rely on their knowledge of the Great Romance, but not relying on Elyon/God Himself, their reality of the Great Romance and Elyon began to skew. They began to doubt, they began to twist the purpose and meaning behind His love, and they began to live according to their own means and beliefs instead of resting in the wisdom and faithfulness of God.
I'll confess that when I read these books, these ideas all swirled in my mind, but they didn't take root. I knew this already… it wasn't anything new to me. I took it with a grain of salt, but I didn't really see the awesomeness of it at the time. It was a beautiful story that paralleled the love that Christ has for us and how the world has come to treat that love, but outside of that, because it was "just a book", I wasn't applying the ideas to my own life.
Yesterday my family and I went to church, one that was local to us and held in a high school auditorium (Colorado Ridge Church, www.coloradoridge.com). I haven't been to church in some time – I think it was late March or early April? – due to moving and traveling and everything else going on around us (add to that, being sick a few Sundays – yuck). I was looking forward to attending and finding a church again as a family, but at the same time there is hesitation because it can take time and now that we are a Family of Four, there is so much more involved than simply finding a good place for Adam and me as a couple. So, you have to love when you pick a church for proximity's sake and it turns out to be a "good" one. While we plan to check out other churches in the area, it's a good feeling to want to repeat attendance.
The pastor we heard preach yesterday was Craig Kubiszewski (say that fast 10 times, if you can say it at all). He is a student pastor, and as Adam put it, he is younger than the two of us combined (ha, ha, ha, I told Adam he couldn't be negative years old). However, he was full of passion and vigor and very obviously, love, for His Lord. It was awesome to hear him speak.
He preached on Daniel 2, and the takeaway from the sermon was the following points:
- All wisdom comes from God. (Proverbs 2:6 – 8; James 1:5)
- God will never leave or forsake His faithful.
- Daniel 2 (the story of Daniel's interpretation of the king's dream) is a story about God's greatness and faithfulness.
All wisdom comes from God – Daniel didn't have the answers that the king desired, but Daniel knew that God had the answers. Often when we are looking for answers or direction, we might pray and ask God for them, but if we don't hear a response from him right this instance (which is a direct result of our culture of instant gratification), we look elsewhere. We look to the world for answers. But all wisdom comes from God, and He will provide us with directions and answers in His perfect time.
We can tie the second point into that as well. God will never leave or forsake His faithful. So while it may seem at times that God has forsaken us, really we should wonder if we have forsaken God and therefore we aren't really listening… we aren't really following… we aren't really seeking His direction. We shouldn't leave behind our values, morality, and character just to "fit into" the world. God is looking for those who are faithful and blameless so that He can bless them. So while it may be hard to walk in Christ in this world, it is expected of us and we will be blessed for it.
At the beginning of the service, we sang Lead Me to the Cross by Hillsong United. At the opening of the service and then again to close it, we sang Your Love Never Fails by Chris Quilala.
It was while we were singing this second song a second time that I recalled the lyrics from Lead Me to the Cross… where your love poured out. Note what it says… where your LOVE poured out (so many people sing this song incorrectly and sign "where your blood poured out")… and suddenly I was hit with this overwhelming feeling…
God is faithful. God will never leave us or forsake us. God was faithful and didn't forsake Daniel because He loves us. It is so simple, isn't it? And yet, I think so often we forget that very simple thing – how awesome and great His love is. For us. For us. His creation. And it was then that I remembered the Circle Series. It was then that I remembered this fluffy, cute thing in the books called The Great Romance, which was really about Elyon/God wanting a relationship with His people… God wants a relationship with us… being faithful and never forsaking His people… loving His people to the point of death…
How can we not say that along with God's faithfulness never failing, truly His love never fails. How does it feel to know you are loved that way? Loved that much? That no matter what, He loves us? He can't stop loving us. To know that there is a being that loves you that way and longs for you to accept His love and to love Him in return? There is no one who can offer us the kind of love that Christ offers us. He poured out his love for us on the cross. He showed Daniel His love by offering Daniel wisdom, by staying with Daniel, by proving His faithfulness.
How else to tie this to the books I read… as I stated above, I treated it as a story and not as truth, because it was a fiction book. It is hard to fully explain how this all relates without telling you the entirety of the books, but upon hearing the Scripture, the words of the pastor, and the words of the songs, I was overwhelmed with the truth in the books, the realization that God IS Love, and how awesome that love is. I suddenly remembered parts of the book that I had skimmed and they had new meaning to me; so much of the story in Daniel and in the words of the sermon was reflected back to me.
Ironically, both the Circle Series and Daniel 2 had to do with dreams as well, and I didn't even think about that part of it until well after I had decided that I needed to write about this. Heh.
Mainly, how awesome that when I try to infuse Christ into all aspects of my life – whether at work or at play (reading Christian fiction) – it all comes full circle and ties together so beautifully – inviting God into EVERY part of my life makes all of the parts singularly that much better.
Do you know what Daniel does after God imparts wisdom on Him? He doesn't immediately run to the king and tell him that he knows his dream and has interpreted it. No, first, he thanks and praises God. (Did you read Daniel 2?) So, between the songs and the sermon, and then suddenly remembering the Circle Series, I was overwhelmed with the need to thank and praise Him for His love. I immediately began thanking and praising Him for bringing our family through the last six months of "unknown" and for bringing us back together. It was a nice idea to think that God would quickly answer our prayers last November of "where", "when", "what" the day that Adam turned in His resignation, but He didn't. It would have been nice for God to answer us in our time, but He didn't. He answered us in His time. And in doing so, He showed us His faithfulness and greatness and love. Each step of the last six months has forced us to rely on Him. Had we chosen to rely on ourselves or force anything to happen in the world's time and ways, we would be a hurting family unit.
Instead, we are strong in Him. Instead, we have seen what God can do and hopefully others have seen the awesomeness of God through what He has done for us. He has shown us His greatness by following His path, albeit different than what the world expected. How else could we have gotten to where we are without Him being behind it all? How else will we continue to move forward?
All of this time, we have been praying and asking that He show us, help us, guide us. And finally my eyes were opened to the Greatness that is God and all that He has done for our family… to the Love that He showed us, and I've never felt a stronger need to fall prostrate.
I wish I would have written this yesterday. Like a dream, so much of what I was hoping to convey in this post was stored in my short term memory, so I hope that you understand my meaning and direction. Mostly, I hope that you know how much God loves you. How faithful He is. How great. I hope you know that He will never forsake you. I hope if you are struggling right now that you know Him and that you can go to Him and know that he will never leave you. And, I hope that no matter where you are in your life, you feel that need to praise and thank Him for all that He is and all that He has done and all He has yet to do in your life. How great is our God, how great is His love. Truly.