Keri Wyatt Kent asked me to take a look at her book Deeply Loved: 40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Hear of Jesus, and I looked forward to its arrival in the mail. The day it came, I showed it to my wife. I didn’t see it again for 40 days.
Now that I have had a chance at it, I can see why my wife did not give this book of devotions back any sooner. Keri has once again written a book that challenges me and encourages me, a book I agree with and disagree with, one that leaves me with a deeper understanding of my relationship with God after reading it.
Toward the start of the book, in a section reminiscent of Hebrews 12:1-2, Keri talks of what it means to be devoted to Jesus, to walk with him, to watch and learn from him:
Jesus made it fairly simple, at least to start. He said, “Follow me.”
The word follow, diluted by our culture, begs for a biblical definition. In English, you can follow directions (or not); you can follow a sports team (by simply reading the paper or watching TV); you can “follow your bliss” (though that might not get you beyond yourself); you can follow someone on Twitter (even if you don’t actually know them).
When Jesus invited a group of first-century Jewish fisherman and political zealots to follow him, he didn’t mean “Let’s just keep in touch.” He literally meant, “Come with me, right now. Live as I live. Learn a way of life and faith from me by watching.” And some people did, but others did not. (8-9.)
This book is for those whose answer to Jesus’ invitation is seen in the fact that they desire to get up and follow him, joining those who did so when he first offered that invitation 2000 years ago. This book is for people who want to grow in their relationship with Jesus and more fully understand the deep, deep love he has for us. Or as Keri puts it:
The goal of this book: to help you experience the deep love of Jesus. A by-product of that goal should be spiritual growth as well. (186.)
Deeply Loved is divided up into chapters which each cover one of the 40 days, focusing on 40 aspects of God and our relationship with him. Some concern how we interact with Jesus, such as the excerpt above on walking with Jesus. Others concern traditional spiritual disciplines like prayer, meditating on the word of God and confession. Still others speak of fellowship and our responsibility to the family of God.
Keri reflects on the subject of each chapter with well-written guidance that draws on her personal experiences (some painful, some poignant, some humorous), research into wisdom from others who have come before (ancient and modern), and always starts with a passage or two from God’s word that steers the conversation along (Old Testament, New Testament, or both together). The end of each section is a guide for practicing what has been presented, a couple of paragraphs that bring the discussion into a manageable application.
As Keri herself admits in the second half of the devotional:
Here we are, more than halfway through our journey – perhaps you’ve realized that although the steps I’ve given are quite accessible and in some ways simple, they are not always easy. No one can do them for you – except God. … We must be willing to show up, and be still – and let him work. Just letting go of control – to stop trying so hard – is, ironically, the hardest thing to do. (128-129.)
One of the strengths of this book is that Keri does not shove all discussion on a given topic into one chapter, nor does she bunch all like chapters together and then drop the subject in order to move on to something new. She weaves topics together, so that the reader moves from prayer to rest to fellowship and back to prayer again, with Scripture study and family and faith making their appearances again and again as well.
Rather than being confusing, this allows a topic to be explored in conjunction with other aspects of our faith. It’s a masterful touch, because frankly that’s what faith is like day to day. We pray and talk to people, we read the Bible and go to work, we minister to the hurting and we receive ministration as well. Life is convoluted.
That’s why I appreciate so much the chapters that discuss our rest, our hurriedness, being busy, Sabbath. As Keri puts it, “Sabbath is not just a day but a lifestyle.” (138.) Our Savior is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8), and is our Sabbath rest himself. (Hebrews 4.) Jesus calls us to live in him, a “lifestyle” if you will that leads to life abundant. (John 10:10.) His yoke is easy and light, a freedom from the burden of sin. (Matthew 11:28-30.)
Deeply Loved is a wonderful tool for digging deeper into what it means to honor God our Father and glorify him, to rest in Christ, to live in the power of the Spirit.
This devotional will guide you in understanding just how deep God’s love goes.