I know, I know. If you need a “guide” for falling in love, it’s probably not true love. But falling in love with Jesus is different. It often feels like Jesus is far away. Somewhere up there. If we could just get to Him. If we could really know — to our bones — His world-overturning Love, it would change everything. It’s a mountain to get to Jesus, but something in us knows that to climb is to live.
It’s a mountain to get to Jesus, but something in us knows that to climb is to live.
If you’re a reader like me, books are one of your favorite ways to make the climb. The next few posts will be recommendations of books that have played a central role in shaping the journey for me.
Book #1: The Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge
In the best possible way, The Sacred Romance is written in an almost apologetic style. The co-authors build a foundation for their message and, layer by layer, build their case. The result is that the text immerses you in a startling, hopeful message: The ache inside you isn’t lying. You’re not imagining it. You were made for more — a great Story that is more than just the span and scope of your life. There is a Romance that has been wooing your heart since you first laid eyes on something beautiful and felt that lurch of wanting to be pulled up into the Larger Story that our hearts all ache and clamor for.
A FAVORITE EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK:
Each of us has a geography where the Romance first spoke to us . . . My own earliest memories of the Romance come from 120 acres of New Jersey farmland, bordered by a stream to the southeast and a low and broad hillside to the northwest.
. . . I first remember the Romance calling to me when I was a boy of six or seven, just past dusk on a summer evening, when the hotter and dustier work of the farm had given way to another song. Something warm and alive and poignantly haunting would call to me from the mysterious borders of the farm that was my world. I would walk toward it, past the corrals where our milk cows rested, down through rows of dark green corn that towered far over my head . . . The earth was warm and brown and fragrant and seemed to invite a sort of barefooted ecstasy with no worry of stones or other debris to cause me harm.
Finally I would come to the end of the corn out into a fringe of meadow where tall grasses swayed in silvery response to the moonlight’s embrace . . . The hardwoods that guarded the creek would usher me to a sandbar below an old wooden bridge . . . There in the moonlight, I would squat down on my heels near the water’s edge, letting my toes sink into the cool sand. Around the imprint of my foot, the sand would bleed the deep reds of rusting iron ore.
. . . I remember being in that place until the music of life would fill me with the knowledge of some Romance to be lived; an assurance that there was a reason to joust against dragons with wooden swords; a reason to wear not one but two pearl-handled revolvers in the cowboy stories I weaved and lived out each day; a reason to include a pretty girl who needed to be rescued . . . The magic assured me of loves and lovers and adventures to be joined and mystery to be pursued.
The Romance of that place would surround me as I rose and returned through the cornfield in response to my mother’s distant call. It comforted me with a familiarity that seemed to connect me with things that were at once very old and still becoming new.
WHY I LOVE THIS BOOK:
Besides being the first thing to ever put words to my own ache, the book also goes into a brilliant explanation of how we all try to fill that ache for the Romance in various types of temporary love stories that never seem to fully satisfy. I first read The Sacred Romance when I was sixteen, navigating an unhealthy relationship and on the verge of my first real heartbreak.
Then, already there, ready to catch me and hug me close, God waited and walked alongside and used this book to weave an understanding of the Sacred Romance into my consciousness. He wove it into a net — ready to catch me and fling me back upward. In my own story, it took the shape of a tapestry of countless winter nights spent under shimmering starlit skies, my shivering eclipsed by the dazzling joy of wondering at a God who shone through cracks in the glittering veil, wanting to push through that ton of sky to get to me! He wanted my heart the way I would seek to find in so many boys through my young life — to have and to hold. To cherish. Isn’t that how the story is supposed to go?
The starry veil called to me again and again, wooing me away to meet God in my parents’ back yard, ignoring my mom’s calls when she worried I’d freeze. I had no devotional checklist — I wouldn’t have been able to use a pencil anyway, all bundled up under three layers of clothes and wrapped up like a burrito in an old quilt. I just lay out there and soaked up the feeling that God was there — right behind that veil. (I wrote a poem about these winter nights, all those years ago. You can see it in my Poetry archive here.)
Can it really be that God was enjoying these dates just as much as me? I think back on this season with sweet longing and a desperate prayer on my lips to somehow re-learn to be like that again. To just go . . . to meet Him. To just enjoy and believe — wonder of wonders — that He ran to meet me too.
WHERE TO FIND…
A paperback copy of the book:
Author John Eldredge’s ministry website: