Thanksgiving

Thankfulness, John Piper and John Eldredge

I am a huge fan of John Piper.  I was sad the day he left the pulpit, as I loved hearing his message each week.  Yet, I know God is going to do something fantastic with his full-time ministry at Desiring God.  He speaks such truth of the gospel, and with such clarity… and I think this is probably why I love him the most… with such passion.  His book, Desiring God, touched my heart and soul in a way that not much else has in this life.  [Disclaimer:  I have not finished the book.  It sits, half-read, on my shelf, along with 100 other books that I have treated the same.  I am not a strong finisher.  But more on that in another blog.]  When I’ve felt discouraged in life, oftentimes I’ll go to an old sermon about pursuing God, battling unbelief with the supremacy of Christ, replacing all those tiny, little pleasures with the ultimate hedonistic pursuit of Christ.  It stirs my soul.
I am also a huge fan of John Eldredge.  I first read Wild at Heart about 10 years ago and my eyes were opened to the deadness of my life.  It didn’t answer a lot of questions on how to change, but it certainly stirred my soul to want to change and to know that change is possible.  Since that time, he has continued to stir my soul with his writings, his passionate pursuit of Christ and the “sacred romance”.  His view of Christ is sometimes unorthodox, some may even say heretical.  I don’t think so.  But I won’t argue that here.  One of my favorite books, Beautiful Outlaw, spoke of the beauty of Christ that we sometimes miss because of all the religious baggage we bring into our view of Christ.  An incredible book.  Oh… and did I mention our youngest son’s middle name is Eldredge.  Seriously.  Eldredge has had a profound impact on our lives.
So, I noticed something a couple of years ago as I started talking about some of Eldredge’s writings with some folks at church.  I was very excited about sharing some of what I was reading in a small group, and I noticed people kind of looked at me curiously, and questioned whether it was a good idea.  The deeper I got into it, the more I realized that some people just really don’t agree with Eldredge and find that the theological strength of his writings is… well, pretty light.  He sometimes misappropriates Scripture to prove a point, or he’ll make a point based on a more humanistic view of life rather than on Scripture.  These same folks, who I know really adore and agree with much of what John Piper says… well, they don’t like nor agree with John Eldredge.
This was difficult for a while.  My wife and I would be embarrassed to admit we gave our son the middle name of Eldredge.  We would hide that fact that we have 10 Eldredge books on our shelf (we have almost the same number of Piper books too!).  It was tough.  But the more I looked at it, the more I realized why I like both authors so much.  They’re saying the same thing!  The meaning and purpose of this life is to HAVE MORE OF CHRIST!  Piper approaches it from a strict biblical perspective and does a fantastic job with it.  Eldredge approaches it more from a “life experience” perspective, backs it up loosely with Scripture, and makes his writings shine with his very comfortable and conversational writing style.  But both really are saying essentially the same thing.  The answer to the problems of this life is not more duty-bound, religious activity.  The answer is to have more of Christ.
So, as I said in my blog on accepting my humanity, I am accepting today that my humanity can speak into the meaning of life, as a pointer to something greater.  Sort of a shadow of things to come.  The foreshadowing in a movie when you know something really good or bad is going to happen.  The sparkle in someone’s eye that tells you some great joke or wonderful news is about to come.  I am to embrace my humanity today.  God made me human.  And at the same time, I am to long for something greater.
Speaking on what life might be like when we get to heaven, Eldredge questions the often-held belief that we will all stand in front of the video of our lives for everyone to see how we’ve messed up.   He writes:
“One evangelistic tract conveys the popular idea that at some point shortly upon our arrival in heaven the lights will dim and God will give the signal for the videotape of our entire life to be played before the watching universe: every shameful act, every wicked thought. How can this be so? If there is “now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1), how is it possible there will be shame later? God himself shall clothe us in white garments (Rev. 3:5). Will our Lover then strip his beloved so that the universe may gawk at her? Never.
However God may choose to evaluate our lives, whatever memory of our past we shall have in heaven, we know this: It will only contribute to our joy. We will read our story by the light of redemption and see how God has used both the good and the bad, the sorrow and the gladness for our welfare and his glory. With the assurance of total forgiveness we will be free to know ourselves fully, walking again through the seasons of life to linger over the cherished moments and stand in awe at God’s grace for the moments we have tried so hard to forget. Our gratitude and awe will swell into worship of a Lover so strong and kind as to make us fully his own.” [John Eldredge, Sacred Romance]
So, I leave you with this on Thanksgiving.  Be thankful for your humanity.  Be thankful for the hurts, the pain, the joys, the trials, the average moments.  Be thankful for the little and big things.  Life is short.  Be thankful.  I plan to do this today, however imperfect.  And remember, whatever we are thankful for now, it will be pale in comparison to what is coming in eternity.  And we can really be thankful for that.  I am.
Happy Thanksgiving and God bless!