I remember the first time I heard “How He Loves.” I remember the feeling wash over me. I was flooded with emotion that God loved me. It was catastrophic how much He loved me. There was a God who felt something for me and wanted for me to feel something in return.
I used to be a feeler. I was able to deeply experience, to sense the world around me and take it in. Songs like “How He Loves” would put me in an ethereal state as I breathed in the way I felt and the joy, sadness, happiness, and life that involved.
About two or three years ago - that quickly changed.
I began to love truth, the solid, the concrete, what I could see and touch. I studied history in college. I lived in the facts and details, the realities. A distaste grew within me for the abstract, the emotional, and all that could not be held in my hands. I never thought this could apply to my faith.
I began to investigate the Scriptures with vigor, as a scholar. I was enamored with the interesting history, the worlds that words constructed long ago. The narrative of scripture of God’s great vehicle of redemption, Christ, the Christ, left me expectantly looking for where else I could find the messages of Christ in all of the Bible. I began searching in Isaiah, in Esther, Nehemiah, the Samuels, Revelation—I wanted to know more, I had to know more.
I began to see the Bible differently; I looked into reformed theology. To this day, I still think it gives the best, most full, interpretation of scripture. While it, as any man-made system, has flaws, ambiguity, and imperfection, it still does seemingly best at capturing the entire heart of the Gospel. It not only fully acknowledges the end of the Word to accomplish all that Christ will, but also it speaks to all who Christ is.
Loving, graceful teachers like John Piper and Matt Chandler, two pillars of this neo-Reformation, this reviving of new Calvinism, inspired me. Both inspired me, teaching that loving Jesus and knowing truth are not counter-intuitive but totally complementary and mutually necessary. To truly know Jesus is to love Him and feel affection for Him.
My struggle lies in that I easily default. I like achieving a rut and living there. I take comfort in the normal, and when I learn something new, I set up the walls of my tent and stay. I lived so much in theology that it was hard to reset. I found it difficult, and sometimes still do, to be equal part experience and thinker. It remains hard for me to simultaneously experience both emotion for the Lord and a desire to know His truth. Although, I'm not one to have answers, either. I have defaulted here, in a place I am comfortable, at the crossroads of feeling and knowledge.
I love theology. I always will. I think the only true way to love and experience Jesus is to do it through the study of His Word. There's no better way to know Him than to immerse oneself in the nuances of the Bible, to deeply dive into the difficult, the “boring” and see all of it through a lens that sees Christ in all of scripture. My hope is that I will find a new home, a new default setting. I will rest in a place that seeks to fully know God and fully experience the depths of His pleasure.
I still feel the love He has for me as His child. I still go to that place in my heart when I hear “How He Loves.” I feel the emotions, while it is not the same. I long to come to that place where knowing and feeling meet. I await the time I find the balance of younger me and older me. I feel very much like Paul in that: “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.”
I'm not there yet, but I will be.