So, I know I'm a little late in writing this post, but I have good reason. This past weekend, Freight Train (see 4/22 post for who this is) and I went up to Mammoth Cave for what we thought was going to be a canoeing and fishing trip on the Park's Green River. Due to some bad weather that swept through the area earlier in the week, the river rose too high for us to canoe, which also meant no fishing. After a bit of searching and creative thinking, we decided to take a tour of Mammoth Cave and drive up north of the Park to Nolin Lake and camp out on a remote strip of land (which we had to get to by canoe). Despite not catching any fish, the two of us made something out of nothing and this enabled us to take in some of the beautiful scenery around us.
I mention all of this because I had a similar experience to the one Eldredge writes about in the beginning of this chapter. It's hard to be outside in the wilderness and NOT admire the beauty of God's creation. Like many, I feel Him communicating to me through my admiration of nature, especially when I think about how God gives the birds of the air and flowers of the ground all the need to survive, so why wouldn't he give us the same? Too many times, we as humans worry about not getting what we need, when all throughout scripture we are told how he will always provide for us.... because he LOVES us!
In my opinion, the word love has become so distorted and bastardized in today's society that it's hard to tell whether, or to what extent, a person truly feels it. Most importantly, I question how many Christians really love God in the way we're supposed to. This is mainly due to the English translation of the word from Greek origins, which had four prominent words to describe love. First, and most importantly is Agape love, which describes man's love for God. Only He can receive the type of all-encompassing, all-consuming affection for our creator. Second is Eros, the passionate/romantic love that a man has for his spouse. This too is only meant for one being. Third is Philia, or love of friendship, which can be felt towards several people (think the disciples). Fourth, Storge is the love and affection we have towards our parents, siblings, and other family members. Although Thelema, or "desire", is considered to be a form of love, I hesitate to say it's real love since it is more emotional and not grounded in morality and godliness. Many equate this with lust or greed because it's based on one's desire for something.
I write all this to say that we have to focus on the first before we can truly and completely experience the others. Agape love is THE love because it lays the groundwork for our ability to exude and receive the other types of love in a way that fulfills God's will and purpose for our lives. THAT is what Eldredge encourages us men to focus on in the chapter since it supersedes all the rest. By doing so, we'll experience ALL of love, not just some of it.
I'm going to break this up since it's already a long post! So, more to follow.