I am reading Larry Crabb’s magnum opus, 66 Love Letters: A Conversation with God That Invites You into His Story. So far I really like it.
Crabb that takes you through each book of the Bible giving his opinion as to what message he believes God is trying to get across in each book. It is written as a conversation between God and the author. He uses first person for both. There are seven parts representing different sections of the Bible.
Crabb questions God a lot (Crabb calls it whining). He asks of God about many things that some Christian don’t dare ask. But these are questions many do ask. Crabb gives his understanding in the answers. This is not the Bible, it is the conclusions of a man who loves God and has sought Him diligently for many years.
I relate well to Crabb we both have a different view of God in our later years (more trinitarian based). Reading this t book with the Bible helps us see God in a more personal way. It won’t answer all questions, may leave you with more but it provoke you to study, and that is a good thing.
Here is an introduction interview and an excerpt from chapter 1. If you want a succinct view of the book watch the 20 video clips on Youtube.
I Have a Plan: You Are Invited to My Party
God, what are You saying to me in Your first love letter, Genesis?”
“What I’m saying and what I want you to hear is this:
You’ve made a mess, but I have a plan! “In Genesis, I begin telling the story of how everyone fails and I succeed. I want you to know how much of a mess you’ve made out of all the beauty I created. Nothing works as it should anymore. But I have a plan that your failures cannot destroy. There is a capacity for beauty in your soul that I will restore. That’s a promise. I give you a glimpse into how I will carry out My plan in this first love letter.”
“God, could You say a little more? How do You make that message clear in Genesis?”
“I don’t want you to be afraid of failure, or you will live for success. And I don’t want you to be afraid that things in your life will go wrong-they will-or that you will feel empty-you will. If you fear problems or emptiness, you will live for comfort and fulfillment. And that will just complicate the mess you’ve already made.
“Did you ever stop to ask why I made everything; why My Spirit, My Son, and I created the stars, moon, planets; and why We made paradise on earth? The three of Us were making preparations to throw a party, to invite others to a dance, to the dance We’ve been enjoying since before time began. But there were no ‘others’ to invite.
“So at a family council, We decided to create people, human beings just like you whom We could enjoy as they enjoyed Us and all the beauty We had made. That’s why We created Adam and Eve with desires that only We could satisfy. Plans for the party were under way.
“But the story got off track. We knew, of course, that it would. Adam and Eve foolishly decided they could be happier looking out for themselves than trusting Us. They did exactly what you would have done had you been there. They chose to throw their own party, without Us. That’s as foolish as trying to breathe in a room without air or trying to sing when you have no vocal cords. It can’t be done. There is no party without Us, only the prison of loneliness.
“Adam and Eve made the same choice you’ve been making since you were a kid, to protect yourself from pain and to be in control of your own pleasure, to negotiate with Me to get what you want out of life. That decision messed up everything in Eden, just as it still is messing up your life. Adam and Eve felt insecure and began to fight. Their son Cain experienced jealousy-an emotion that earned Lucifer a place in hell-and killed Abel.
“A few generations later, things got so bad, so out of sync with Our design, that I felt nothing but pain as I watched what was happening. So I drowned everyone, except Noah and his family. I wasn’t about to let My plans for a party degenerate into a violent orgy that would only get worse, where people would use each other for their own pleasure and never love anyone. That would be hell. My plan was heaven. I spared those people from descending even deeper into hell on earth.
“But I wasn’t about to give up on My great plan. I knew that one day I would look down on a community of people that I would recreate and feel deep pleasure, and again be able to say, ‘This is good. This is very good!’
“Then Noah got drunk, his kids got in trouble, and their descendants-a capable bunch who developed civilization with the arts, industry, and agriculture-became proud. Drawing from the same energy with which Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they set about to build their lives into a satisfying, organized existence without Me in the center.
“So they erected this silly tower to rally everyone together. Their goal was unity with each other without union with Me. They thought they could become friends with each other before first becoming friends with Me. It can’t be done. To make the point, I ruined their plans by making them speak different languages; I interfered with a plan that would never work.
“Once again, things were a mess. Everyone was living to succeed, to make their lives comfortable and fulfilling. No one was paying attention to My design for the truly good life.
“But I had a plan. I always do. I chose Abraham, just one ordinary, God-dishonoring man, to begin a whole new civilization, a new kingdom, to become a new kind of person to form a new kind of community-a listening community made up of people who would know Me, people who would hear Me and relate to others in order to love, both to receive and to give.
“Of course Abraham failed, like everyone, like you. That’s why I told you not to fear failure. If you do, you’ll live for a success you can never achieve. But I succeeded. I gave Abraham the kind of faith that you must want, that you need, to join My story. That’s what I want you to hear as you read about My friend Abraham.
“Isaac comes next. I saw to it that he be born to Abraham and Sarah when, according to natural law, they could not bear children. And I did that to make one point: no one joins My story in his or her own power. I want you to know that.
“And then comes Jacob. He was a self-centered, manipulative, insecure mess from day one. Oh, he was resourceful, clever, and full of ambition, the kind of man who would have made it big in your world. But those talents were not what it takes to make it big in My story. So I went to work on him. I revealed Myself seven times to Jacob, to let him know he needed Me if his life was to amount to anything. He’s a good picture of how I change people, slowly, through problems in their lives and failures on their part and an infinite amount of patience and grace on My part.
“Read the story of Jacob and take heart: I can transform anyone into the likeness of My Son. But the process is never easy or short. It took nearly 150 years filled with terrible family problems to change Jacob into Israel, into a man who learned to trust Me in the struggles of life. But I got the job done. I always do. “I close My first love letter talking about Joseph. As you read what happened in his life, I want you to hear that even people who serve Me well struggle greatly. But never without purpose though the specific purpose will often remain obscure until you’re dancing with Me at the eternal party-and you really won’t care then. Every moment of suffering you endure is part of the good story I am telling. I don’t want you to be surprised when after years of following Me closely, you still run into trouble.
“When you finish reading My first love letter to you, I want you to realize that I never underestimated how thoroughly you’d mess up your life or how painfully you would struggle and suffer, and I don’t want you to underestimate your failures or struggles either. They’re all part of the story I’m telling. “But neither have I underestimated My determination or ability to enter the mess you’ve made and the pain you feel and turn everything around. I can, and I will, make everything good again. Never, never underestimate Me. I have a plan, a very good one, and it will move ahead to completion. Guaranteed!
Trust Me. Why? Because I love you even when you’re messing up badly. I love you in the middle of your pain even though I don’t relieve it as quickly as you wish. I am worthy of your trust, no matter what happens in your life. I have a good plan, and nothing will stop Me from carrying it to completion. You must live now in the tension between anguish and hope. “That’s what I want you to hear when you read Genesis.”
“God, may I tell You my honest reaction to Your first love letter?”
“Of course! I always want you to be honest with Me. I already know all that is happening inside you, but you will experience My love more deeply when you share your heart with Me.”
“Okay, then, here goes! Genesis leaves me confused and frustrated. I really don’t get why You killed everyone in the Flood. Did they all go to hell? And weren’t the people after the Flood just as bad as those before?
“You tell me not to be afraid of failure or of pain and emptiness. Well, I am afraid, more afraid of my life going badly than of anything else. You tell me that You made me with desires only You can satisfy. Then why aren’t You satisfying them?
“I don’t think I’m wrong to want satisfaction. You put the craving in me. Are You telling me that my deepest longing is for You, and that I’m to wait until heaven for that desire to be fully satisfied? And in the meantime, I’m to obey and trust You? That’s hard!
“I don’t think I have the kind of faith Abraham had. I can’t bear the thought of losing either of my sons, let alone plunging a knife into one of them because You told me to.
“I do believe I’m a child of promise, like Isaac. I know it’s a miracle that I’ve been born again. But my identity is wrapped up in so many other things than my status as Your son.
“Jacob’s life does give me hope. Maybe I will become the person I long to be, but why does it take so long? That frustrates me.
“And Joseph! So much trouble before blessing. Does it have to be like that? And I don’t think You even guarantee the blessings I want, at least not in this life. Joseph made it to a throne in Egypt and became a hero to his restored family. I don’t think You promised me anything similar.
“God, I don’t want to underestimate either my sin and struggle or Your power and love. But I so naturally deny the evil in me and the pain I feel just to emotionally survive, and I have a really hard time seeing Your power and love when so many things go wrong.
“You told me to be honest. God, I’m not really all that warmed by Your first love letter though the promise of restored beauty does stir something deep. I think I need to read more. Thanks for listening.”
“I always listen. And I’ll never turn away from you. Yes, keep reading.”
66 Love Letters App
66 LOVE LETTERS by Larry Crabb (unabridged) is presented by Oasis Audio and comes with what is perhaps the best audiobook app available. Get it at iTunes.