Monday, March 27, 2017

The Wild Side of Jesus


Untamed: How the Wild Side of Jesus Frees Us to Live and Love with Abandon by Lisa Harper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Through reading the book Untamed, I have become a fan of the author, Lisa Harper. Her humor is very refreshing and makes such an enjoyable read! I found myself relating to her in so many ways as I see parallels to my relationship with Jesus as it has grown stronger and continues to do so.

In the first two pages of the book, Harper writes, "Choosing the safe but boring path is an apt metaphor for the years I spent rather numbly and halfheartedly pursuing God." I've definitely been there over the years, trying to avoid pain and chaos. And then I got fibromyalgia, haha! Seriously, though, if chronic illness has turned your relationship with Jesus into lukewarm bath water, Harper invites you to "reawaken the sense of adventure God hard-wired into your soul." You see, if you are reading this post then you still have breath and that means God is not done with you yet!

Now, Harper has a very sharp sense of humor that some might find offensive or sacrilegious. She talks about paralytics who turn cartwheels, how Tamar's first husband and Onan were stinkers so God killed them, and she calls John the Baptist "Johnny B." I had reached a point that I thought, okay, this might be too much, but then changed my mind when two pages later I was laughing out loud at the vision of John the Baptist "with locust legs stuck between his teeth." I know it's been said before, but it the first time I actually pictured it! Harper was talking about the type of people Jesus hung out with, and right after the locust legs comment, she writes a profound piece that makes your heart swell over the Jesus who loves us:

"But Jesus is the friend who lovingly sticks by every repentant sinner's side through thick and thin. Even when we blow it or get distracted by other interests, He doesn't stop loving us. In fact, Jesus' unwavering commitment to us is what ultimately compelled Him to lay down His life in exchange for ours. His devotion to broken people like us is remarkable."

It reminds me of Isaiah 61:
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;"

Throughout the book, Harper shares her personal experiences (that I'm sure many can relate to) and connects them to biblical stories, illuminating the true Jesus that loves and accepts us all. The end of each chapter also has questions to help the reader dig deeper, not just within themselves but through God's Word.

It's funny, sensitive, and I highly recommend Untamed.

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