I am reading Diana Oestreich’s wonderful new memoir Waging Peace. Her account of God’s call on her to lay aside the nationalism and division that plagues us in the American church is reminding me so much of my own journey and is stunning in its timeliness. The moment when the still small voice called out to her in her bunk, gently saying, “I love them too”. Her beautiful description of the pull of a stranger in a desert war zone, a stranger who would put a face, family and story to the “enemy” has me transported. Transported back to Afghanistan in 2000, back to briefings on modesty and security, back to navigating a city full of people clamoring for help, clamoring for attention from a world that didn’t seem to care. The pre-9/11 world of the Hindu Kush mountains could not have been more different than the Iraqi desert that Diana encountered just few short months later, and yet it was where God spoke to me about the Love. The Love that sings softly over each bearer of the image of God. The Love that calls proud, well-meaning, self-righteous girls to cross oceans on planes and then destroys them with the depth of the song.
My moments came all in a rush, in the incongruity of tea with a Taliban Minister, in the stifling heat of a refugee camp where the demands Persian hospitality dictated that I ate two meals while my hosts starved, in the dusty courtyard of a jail visiting people imprisoned for drugs, in the dark of night gazing out at the mountains surrounding Kabul and realising that God Loves heavy here. He Loves indiscriminately with no thought for our sensibilities, with no regard to our prejudices. The Love of God is wanton. That wantonness defies all the things we are taught, it runs roughshod over our gatekeeping and management and “discipleship”. Its extravagance is offensive, dangerous and as necessary as oxygen.
It is this wanton disregard for propriety that makes Jesus the light by which all is seen. It is this extravagant love that Diana writes about in such heart rending detail. It is this Love that calls us into the steps of the peacemaker, into loving those not like us.
Read this book! You and I need this book! We need this message!
I can barely put this wonderful memoir down. It is alternately gripping and warm, funny and tense. Diana’s story of God’s still small voice calling her to love the unlovely, the other, the “enemy” is a beautiful and timely message for our times of division and tribalism. Read this book! Buy two copies, or five and share with your friends! We need this voice in our world!