God’s Song

Why do we still hold back sometimes from being fully happy? Birds chirp, squirrels chase each other, otters swim and dive, dogs wag their tails, cats purr, monkeys joke, wolves cuddle, eagles soar the heights, and babies laugh about their toes. Joy is the bright Force of Creation that throbs through all of its creatures in different ways. Joy is God’s song, and it sings the flowers awake in springtime, calling out with conviction that there is no ultimate death, no winter that lasts. Joy is the Earth turning her her face toward the sun once again, and the frozen hard ground yielding and softening, like our hearts when they are given hope that they might heal and be happy after all. Joy coaxes the sap to rise, the trees to extend their branches into space, and the blossoms to burst slowly forth with color and fragrance to share their particular songs with whoever will come by. We are surrounded by a chorus of the sublime and the beautiful, and we need to let ourselves sing gaily in that grand chorus. Joy! Why not? It looks good on you.

— Mary Hayes Grieco, Unconditional Forgiveness, p. 21

Walking Beside

Walking beside others is what we are here to do. That’s why others have gathered. But walking side by side is far different than pushing our specific direction on someone else. If our motive is to express joy about another’s journey, allowing her or him to have what fits for them, we are fulfilling God’s will for us. If, instead, we are directing traffic, we have usurped God’s role in their lives, and it’s time to back off.

— Karen Casey, Let Go Now, p. 77

Still the Same

If we could get a little perspective, we’d see how absurd it is to hold, on the one hand, that the Gospels are the definitive word on Jesus, while holding, on the other, that he doesn’t behave like that anymore. God gives us his Son, and grounds the record for all time in the four Gospels. This is who Jesus is. Against all other claims, doctrines, accounts, this is Jesus Christ. But then — as many Christians have been led to believe — God changed the rules. “That’s not available to you now.” You can’t reach out to him in faith as did the woman with the issue of blood and be healed by his life as she was. You can’t cry out to him and have him deliver you of a foul spirit. You can’t lean upon his breast in intimacy.

It’s psychotic.

It’s also blasphemy. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.

Let’s be honest. What is usually going on — what has proven true in every case I have ever encountered — is something more like this: “I don’t experience Jesus personally, so we must not as a rule be able to experience him personally.” Or, “I don’t experience Jesus like that (his playfulness, generosity, freedom, intimacy), so he mustn’t do that any more.”

— John Eldredge, Beautiful Outlaw, p. 156-157


There is another dimension to the violent, demanding God, the one people need Jesus to rescue them from. We see it in the words of the older brother, when he says he “never even disobeyed.” You can sense the anxiety in his defense, the paranoid awareness that he believed his father was looking over his shoulder the whole time, waiting and watching to catch him in disobedience. The violent God creates profound worry in people. Tension. Stress. This God is supposed to bring peace, that’s how the pitch goes, but in the end this God can easily produce followers who are paralyzed and catatonic, full of fear. Whatever you do, don’t step out of line or give this God any reason to be displeased, because who knows what will be unleashed.

Jesus frees us from that,
because his kind of love simply does away with fear.
Once again, the words of the father in the story,
the one who joyously, generously declares:
“You are always with me,
and everything I have is yours.”

— Rob Bell, Love Wins, p. 184


I brought you out of that prison to bring you into the freedom of love. If you love Me only when I immediately satisfy your desires, your love is merely one more form of self-centeredness. Your love becomes trust only when you choose to believe that I brought you out of something bad to bring you into something good before you experience that something good. Then your love is sustained by confidence in My character, not by enjoyment of current blessings.

— Larry Crabb, God’s Love Letters to You, p. 14

Everything to Gain

What do I lose when I have a praying life? Control. Independence. What do I gain? Friendship with God. A quiet heart. The living work of God in the hearts of those I love. The ability to roll back the tide of evil. Essentially, I lose my kingdom and get his. I move from being an independent player to a dependent lover. I move from being an orphan to a child of God.

— Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life, p. 125-126