Recapture the Wonder

recapture the wonder

For the category “A book with a blue cover” in my 2016 reading challenge, I chose Recapture the Wonder by one of my favorite Christian authors–Ravi Zacharias. I have always loved how Ravi is able to connect with the senses everytime he writes, and this book is one of those that make you see everything in a different light after reading. Rather than detaching you from the world, as some books would do, Recapture the Wonder connects you to it, and in turn making you appreciate its Creator.

As I’ve done with Don’t Waste Your Life, below are my favorite quotes from each chapter, followed by my thoughts:

 

1. We Miss It, but What Is It?

Wonder is that possession of the mind that enchants the emotions while never surrendering reason. It is a grasp on reality that does not need constant high points in order to be maintained, nor is it made vulnerable by the low points of life’s struggle… Wonder knows how to read the shadows because it knows the nature of light. Wonder knows that while you cannot look at the light you cannot look at anything else without it… It is a journey like a walk through the woods, over the usual obstacles and around the common distractions, while the voice of direction leads, saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it” (Isaiah 30:21 KJV).

How I wish my life would consist only of high points all time, but that would never happen. There will always be highs and lows. This is why maintaining a sense of Wonder in every situation, the good or the bad, is really challenging. But how can we successfully “read the shadows?” How will we be able to confidently say that we trust God, even in the dark?

2. The Rules of the Game

God’s commands are there to protect what life is truly about, not the other way around.

As G.K. Chesterton said, “before you remove any fence, always first ask why it was put there in the first place.” To develop a sense of wonder even when we are struggling, we must understand that life is meant to be lived God’s way. The rules He set are for our own protection, and our ultimate gain. We may not understand everything now, but God always sees the bigger picture.

3. Passionate Pursuit, Misdirected Search

There are some bitter long-term disappointments in short-term indulgence.

Pursuit of the wrong things always leads to bitterness. Tried and tested. But the good news is, you can always bounce back. His grace will always be sufficient.

4. Wonder Unwrapped

At the cross Jesus gave the final and ultimate gift of unmerited favor… If this were not sufficient, nothing would be.

Because, really, what more could you ask? We can never out-give the Lord. And we must never think that anything or anyone can replace this kind of Love.

5. Wonder Consummated

There is no such thing as free love; love is the most costly expression in the world. But the wonderful thing is that it has already been paid for.

They say you can’t buy love… but it you think about it, loving always has a price, right? And Jesus paid with His life. Greater love has no one than this (John 15:13).

6. Forward to the Past

God is like the light. Wonder is like the shadow. If you chase the shadow you will never catch up to it. It might even disappear. If you walk toward the light, the shadow will always pursue you. That is when the heart sings with gladness. 

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me

all the days, all the days of my life.

 

Stop chasing shadows. Set you eyes toward the light, no matter how uncomfortable it may be at the start. Because when you focus on the light, you will see this same light in everything else as well.

A BOOK BASED ON A FAIRY TALE: Uprooted

Uprooted-Naomi-NovikOne.of.the.best.fantasy.stories.ever. Naomi Novik‘s “Uprooted” was way way more than I expected. I thought it’s just another Beauty and the Beast retelling (well I haven’t really read one to be honest, but I’ve seen how they turn fairy tales into movies nowadays, so I thought this would be just like one of those, and by the way, nothing against Beauty and the Beast, it’s my favorite that’s why I chose this story), but this is a tale that is worth its own recognition.

The Story:

Agnieszka (pronounced as “ag-NYESH-kah”) was a simple girl from Dvernik, a village protected by a Dragon from the place that everyone was afraid of–a corrupted place called the Wood. But the Dragon’s protection came with a price: every ten years, he would choose a young woman from Dvernik to live with him in his tower and serve him. And so Agnieszka feared for her best friend, Kasia, for everyone in their village knew that the Dragon would choose her. Why wouldn’t he? Kasia was the most beautiful young woman in their village.

But to everyone’s surprise, the Dragon did not choose Kasia.

My Rating:

5 I-wish-I-can-pluck-all-the-stars-in-the-sky-and-give-them-to-this-book stars!

And no, I am not exaggerating. “Uprooted” was everything I wanted in a story, and more. It was able to enchant me from the first chapter to the last. I honestly could not stop reading. The mystery behind the Wood was gripping, and the development between Agnieszka and the Dragon was so exciting to read. Yes, just to spoil you a little, this is a love story 😉 And I really wish I can tell you more about it, but I think you have to read it for yourself.

Packed with lessons you won’t easily forget, I highly recommend this book for my fellow fantasy lovers. You won’t be disappointed.

 

My favorite quotes:  

“She’d remembered the wrong things, and forgotten too much. She’d remembered how to kill and how to hate, and she’d forgotten how to grow.”

“I don’t want more sense! Not if sense means I’ll stop loving anyone. What is there besides people that’s worth holding on to?”

“He loved his magic, and he would have shared that love with me.”

“It was a slow and dreadful death, if the corruption wasn’t purged. The Wood consuming you like rot eating away at a fallen tree, hollowing you out from the inside, leaving only a monstrous thing full of poison, which cared for nothing but to spread that poison onward.”

 

Balaam’s Donkey

Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials. But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road.

Then the angel of the road stood in a narrow path through the vineyards, with walls on both sides. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat the donkey again.

Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me three times?” 

Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?” 

“No,” he said.

Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell face down.

~ Numbers 22:21-31

 

This story struck me so much that I had to pause from reading to reflect. I don’t know what insights you would have drawn from this passage, but this is mine: We are Balaam, while the donkey is the Holy Spirit.

We are people with so many goals and dreams. And once we’ve set our minds on doing something, especially if we think it’s a matter of grave importance, we won’t let anything get in our way of accomplishing it. “Focus on the prize ahead,” we would say, and in our heads we would pray for the Lord to help us get there, without actually pausing to really seek His will regarding these plans. And these are the times that we have made God our donkey, expecting Him to carry us to that destination, while we hold the reins.

And as Balaam’s donkey tried to protect Balaam from the dangers that his blinded eyes could not see, the Holy Spirit who knows what’s ahead of us has been prompting us again and again to pause and rethink our actions. And like the way Balaam had beaten his donkey for bringing discomfort and “making a fool of him,” we grieve the Holy Spirit every time we think we know better and take Him for granted.

 

“Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”

I tried to replace this line with, “Am I not your God, who have always carried you, to this day? Have I been in the habit of making a fool out of you?”

And then my heart started to break. Who am I to think so little of my God? After everything He’s done to preserve my life, why do I still disobey Him? Why can’t I let go of the reins and surrender completely to his ways? Why do unanswered prayers make me feel foolish and defeated when I didn’t really ask for His will in the first place?

But after all these mistakes, He still uses stories like this to remind me that He’s still with me, no matter how stubborn I have become. That disappointment is His way of telling me that I’m walking the wrong way, and protecting me from the dangers that my human eyes cannot see. That I must seek His will first before making rash decisions that would just hurt me in the end.

 

 

“What have I done to you to make you beat me three times?” 

When the donkey asked this question, I was reminded of how Peter denied Jesus three times in the New Testament (John 18:15-27). I think it was out of shame and fear. He was afraid to get hurt, to be beaten and put to death, as they did his Master. He was afraid to be labeled a fool for being a disciple of Jesus, and so he lied and lied and lied, and grieved God’s heart.

 

“Peter, do you love me?” The Lord would ask him three times in John 21:15-19. Try replacing Peter with your own name. How will you respond?

From Slaves to Conquerors

Chapters Read: Numbers 21: 1 – 22:20

 The Lord said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of him [Og king of Bashan], for I have delivered him into your hands, along with his whole army and his land. Do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon.

 So they struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army, leaving them no survivors. And they took possession of his land.” ~ Numbers 21:34-35

 

The Moabites said to the elders of Midian, “This horde [Israelites] is going to lick up everything around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field.” ~ Numbers 22:4

 

Overcoming the fear in their hearts when they first saw the giants they would have to face in order to claim the promised land (Canaan), the Israelites went on and marched to obey the Lord’s command.

As I was reading through this story, I have observed a notable shift from chapter 20 to chapter 21. In the former, when Israel asked Edom to allow them passage to their country, promising to not touch anything, Israel turned away after seeing the large and powerful army that marched against them. It was only in the next chapter that Israel mustered enough courage to face the armies that stood in their way as they went on. And this courage led them to victory.

What caused the shift?

I think the pivotal point happened in Numbers 21: 2, after the Canaanites attacked and captured some of them on the way. It was when their helplessness led them to call upon the Lord, saying, “If you will deliver these people into our hands, we will totally destroy their cities.” And they had been invincible since. The Lord had granted them victory against the strong armies of Sihon king of the Amorites and Og king of Bashan. This why Balak, the king of Moab at time, feared Israel so much that he ordered his messengers to summon Balaam and bring a curse upon Israel’s army.

If the Lord had not promised to be with them in these battles (Numbers 21:34), the Israelites would not have enough courage and will to face the armies that threatened them. They would have just turned away from their path, as they had done with Edom, and in turn make their journey to Canaan much longer than intended. Surrendering their fear and helplessness before the Lord granted them not only the courage and will to fight, but also the promise that they would be victorious over anything would have to face, and most importantly, the assurance that the Lord would be with them through these battles.

While reading through Israel’s victories, I was reminded of their past, and it made me pause and marvel at the greatness of God’s hand in their lives. They were born slaves. They labored in a foreign land day in and day out, beaten and starved. They had no idea who they were. That they were God’s chosen people. Who would have thought that these people who bowed before foreign masters would be able to wield swords and win wars?

The Lord knew what they were destined for from the very beginning. And despite their sinful and stubborn hearts, the Lord, in His mercy and faithfulness, still found a way to speak to them and lead them to become the people that He had intended them to be.

And that God who had been mighty enough to deliver Israel from his enemies is the same God who is at work in our lives today.

 

Maybe now you are in bondage (physically, emotionally, or spiritually), or maybe you feel like you’ve been wandering in the wilderness for so long, losing hope of finding the way out. Or perhaps you currently in the middle of a great battle, not knowing where to draw the courage and strength to keep fighting. No matter where you are today, always remember that there is a God you can call on to. Refuse to be enslaved by your situation, lift your head, and take His hand. Believe that as long that He’s at your side, there is nothing you can’t conquer.