Sometime in early 1998, a friend in marketing at Thomas Nelson sent me one of their books. It was called The Sacred Romance. Rob Birkhead wrote on a little card that I might enjoy the book. What I didn't know was that Rob had read this little book his company had published but wasn't selling many copies of and was so struck by it he bought several boxes and started sending them out to friends. I looked at the cover and flipped through it for about 19 seconds and put in a stack of other books. I was going through a divorce, I'd been burned by religion, I wasn't sure I was in the mood for human romance let alone a divine one.

Two years passed and then one more. One afternoon I was browsing my bookshelf looking for something to read. God was back on my radar screen and I was hungry for something that might show me something good about him. For some unknown reason I was lead to a slim book with an indistinct spine. I pulled it down, saw it was this book called The Sacred Romance, opened it up and noticed it wasn't the one Rob Birkhead had given me but another one that a different friend had inscribed to me. "To David, Find the Romance! Love, TM"

I sat down on a chair and started reading this silly book. I flipped dubiously through the first pages and learned that the authors-John Eldredge and Brent Curtis-had worked for years on this concept that God wasn't just a distant deity who endured our existence but was a personal God who wanted to be our spiritual lover. God was, they wrote, "the Divine Romancer."

This was weird stuff to read for a guy who loved baseball and football. How can I, a man, appreciate this idea of a God who wants to woo me and court me and love me? The authors knew it sounded weird but implored their male readers to just go along with it for a while.

By the end they had me. Their description of God made more sense to me than any I'd ever heard before.what God wants is for us to allow him to form an intimate relationship with us. He wants to hear from us, talk to us, and journey with us.

The deepest desires of my heart-the soul stirring of great music, of nature's grandeur, of life was really a reflection of my true desire to enjoy the same intimacy with God as the great women and men of the Bible have had. God is not just a romancer, God is also the ultimate destination.

But more than that they set life in a different context. Life isn't a series of random events or a litany of facts; life is a story. It is a great story full of comedy, drama, tragedy, horror. There is a God who is the author of the story and there is also a villain in the story and that villain is the enemy of beauty, light, love. That villain is a fallen angel who is set in opposition to us and to God.

My new wife and I dug into this message, and it changed it our lives. We began to see all of the wounds in our past and we grieved them. We saw God not as someone who grudgingly loved us after we crawled through broken glass to reach him, but as someone who wanted to come to us-and needed only our permission. I guess we let ourselves be romanced.

None of this is to say that the journey suddenly became easy-or even easier. It hasn't. We've suffered through illness and accidents and disappointments and everything else that comes along with life in this world. But we've done so with the increasing knowledge and faith that we aren't in this story alone. There are still lots and lots of questions, and sometimes there seem to be just a few fuzzy answers. But throughout there is a new understanding that we are not alone.

Our journey has been akin to John Eldredge's. He lost his dear friend and co-author Brent Curtis to a climbing accident shortly after The Sacred Romance started selling well. Perhaps that is why these books are not rah-rah inspirationals with 10 tips to a better life or 7 habits of happiness--but rather invitations to a journey that is sometimes beautiful, sometimes painful, often bewildering, but ultimately hopeful.

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