Jim Denison | Denison Forum on Truth and Culture | Friday, January 16, 2015
Football fans know that Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots, is a fashion icon married to a fashion model. His coach, Bill Belichick, is famous (or infamous) for wearing baggy sweatshirts everywhere he goes. When Brady dressed like Belichick for a press conference this week, the photos of his appearance went viral.
Surprises often make the news. For instance, archaeologists recently found a rifle propped against a juniper tree in Nevada's Great Basin National Park. Why is this significant? Because the rifle was manufactured in 1882 and had apparently been left in its present location more than a century ago.
Eclipse is a black Labrador living in Seattle. If the bus arrives and her owner takes too long finishing his cigarette, she climbs aboard by herself, rides to her stop at the dog park, and gets off. Fellow passengers are always happy to see her, and amazed that she knows just where to get off the bus and what to do.
Here's a story that is surprising on three levels. Kara Tippetts is a pastor's wife living in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She and her husband have four children and a thriving church. Surprise #1: this apparently-healthy young woman developed stage-four breast cancer and is now on hospice.
Surprise #2: Kara is the author of "Mundane Faithfulness," a blog that has gone viral. Her book, "The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life's Hard," is a bestseller as well. Kara's writing on her journey is some of the most moving, genuine, gracious journaling I've ever read. I urge you to read her recent blog post and pray for her and with her.
Surprise #3: in the midst of her pain, Kara has encountered Jesus' love in amazing ways. She testifies: "We live by degrees and now I'm learning how we also die by degrees . . . I have spent so much time thinking on big love and wondering how we press past our own limitations we place on ourselves and love beyond our limits. How do we move beyond our comfort and into a realm greater than our understanding. We find a comfort near to Jesus, knowing his love, and begin to overflow from the bounty he has provided in our lives. It takes courage. It causes heartache at times, but there is always a return."
C. S. Lewis notes in The Problem of Pain that "the world exists not chiefly that we may love God but that God may love us." In yesterday's First15, Craig Denison states: "The human race has no greater driving force than the longing to be enjoyed." He asks us to "think back on yesterday. What did you do so that people would like you—so that people would enjoy you?" And he concludes, "Our Father created all of us with a longing to be enjoyed by him. . . . You, just being you, are loved. You, with all your failures, victories, sins and quirks are enjoyable to God. . . . Seek fulfillment for your longing to be enjoyed in the arms of your loving Father."
Your culture wants you to seek its approval. The surprise is that you already have your Father's: "As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you" (Isaiah 62:5). Will you find joy in the fact that he finds joy in you?
Publication date: January 16, 2015
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