Or, not so much.
It is the late morning of day three and I have only finished one book and begun my second, which for my own pride (yes, this is a matter of pride now!) I will finish today! And I will then start on the third so that it all feels somewhat legitimate to me.
(Imagine the book cover going here. Except the book cover is just white so it would blend into this page. And it says, in small text, and in a color similar to this, Velvit Elvis. So this is basically your book cover)
In my defense, I spent more time than anticipated thinking, smiling, and reveling in the goodness of this book than I thought I would. His words seemed to blend with mine at moments and his thoughts echoed my thoughts. I think it is one of the most important books for Christ followers in a very long time. I would love to spend hours in a coffee shop talking to people about this book. There is so much beauty in it. It reminded me of a Coldplay concert.
One of my favorite sections of the book is entitled: Everywhere. Here's what Rob Bell says, "If it is true, if it is beautiful, if it is honorable, if it is right, then claim it. Because it is from God. And you belong to God." The thought behind this being that there is a lot of beauty in this world and a lot of truth though it may not always be labeled "Christian" beauty or "Christian" truth, but inherently it is tangled up with God and it is His because all beauty, and all truth, all things honorable, and holy belong to God. Rob says, "Why should we ever be surprised when truth turns up in strange places?"
Which leads me to Coldplay. And led Rob Bell to U2. It was a perfect night, a million stars, thousands of people and Ryan and I were at an outdoor Coldplay concert. They were playing the song Fix You from the new album. It starts off as a lullaby, a prayer, a desperate little song and then it says...lights will guide you home and I will try to fix you. Everyone was singing. The instruments started getting louder. Everyone on stage starts singing passionately. They transcend the stage and they are lost in the music as it erupts and explodes. People all around me are singing the song at the top of their lungs. I transcend the place and tears literally start falling from my face and before I know it the presence of God is so thick in the air, the worship, the awe, the wonder of being escorted in that strange moment into the beauty and goodness and holiness of Christ is a little surprising. I look up to see thousands of different people singing, and God reminds me of how much He loves us all. How much He loves music. How much He loves this moment. How present He truly is. It was an amazing moment of worship.
God does not have boundaries. That night there were some guys behind us who were totally drunk. It was unfortunate because before the concert even started one of them threw up everywhere and since we were sitting on an incline it began to run down between our feet. Not pleasant. There were a lot of drunk people there. Also, the people on stage leading me in that overwhelming moment of worship may or may not follow any religion, they may not be Christ followers, they may despise the American church. And speaking of church, we were not in one. No four walls, steeple, or pews. We were not even surrounded, to my knowledge, by anyone we knew or associated with our faith community. But none of these things mattered. Because in that moment there was a lot of beauty and a lot of truth, and God showed up and claimed it as His.
These moments of awe that we experience through life belong to God. The birth of a child. The severe pain that comes with loss. The moment of worship that comes at a Coldplay concert. The connection with Jesus while visiting a Hindu temple. The connection with nature and worship of God when you've reached the top of the mountain. The joy of a moment that seems to transcend everything else going on in your life and fills you with a peace that passes all understanding. These all belong to our Saviour no matter where they are found in the world.
Rob Bell says, "To be a Christian is to claim truth wherever you find it." I like this and it makes sense to me. Because for me, I found the truth of Christ in the middle of a Coldplay concert. I have also found it in other strange moments....like swimming deep in the ocean, watching Ryan furiously work away at his computer, holding a baby in Romania, being in a room when 5 people are pouring their souls out and grieving and growing up together, eating an amazing meal with my family, and I have even been strangely aware of God's overwhelming beauty, truth, and presence in a pretty disgusting truck-stop bathroom once.
I left this book thinking...move outside the church Jen, move into the real world, and experience the God who is actively loving people and moving throughout our entire world without any boundaries. We can find God in a whole lot of places and people.
"The earth is drenched with the presence of God," Rob Bell (a really amazing speaker of truth said).