Reckless Love

How do the Oklahoma State University crew team, Garth Brooks, and The Brady Bunch play a role in God’s Reckless Love? Let’s go on a journey with Bonnie Shaw’s latest reflection to find out!

I find myself considering the abundant examples of reckless love in my life. I think of toddlers flinging themselves into my arms with wild abandon, seeking comfort where they know it is to be found. I picture family pets barking at perceived threats, standing firm to protect those they love. More sedate forms of this same expression also fill my imagination and memory.

Nature and the outdoors are a beautiful joy to me, a playground given by the Father for our enjoyment and a peaceful awareness of His constant presence in His creation. Outdoor pursuits provide a backdrop for immersing myself in His handiwork.

As a member of the Oklahoma State University Crew, rowing practice was early mornings on Lake Carl Blackwell. Silence reigned, except for the near perfect rhythm of the oars dipping into the water, seats sliding in sync and wooden oar handles straining against the oarlocks. Our boat of 8 plus our coxswain, had the distinct satisfaction of watching the sun rise each weekday morning. It was a singular pleasure to start my school day in just such a manner.

Each sunrise was lovely, the decadence of an Oklahoma sky reflected upon the water, casting light upon the morning. And yet, sometimes one such display would leave us needing to break the silence, as if we felt compelled to respond in thanksgiving for the gift. In my boat, some of us were naturally chipper as we carried our craft from the boathouse to the dock on our shoulders, rolling it overhead in a practiced maneuver, lowering it into the liquid below before settling in for the next few hours. Others were bleary eyed until the sun rose, though the guilty shall remain nameless.

In response to such dazzling beauty before us, someone would start singing Garth Brooks, “The River.” One by one, each seat would lend their voice, adding another layer of sound to the perfect cadence of oars, gliding movement of seats, and fluid motion to the sun rising on the edge of our morning. The chorus was always so peaceful, seeming to rise with the sun:

“And I will sail my vessel

Til the river runs dry

Like a bird upon the wind

These waters are my sky

I’ll never reach my destination

If I never try

So, I will sail my vessel

‘Til the river runs dry.”

It was an anthem of sorts, our collective hearts declaring our joy in receiving the beauty of the sun’s glorious display, and an ownership of the pride we felt in rowing for our university and giving our best efforts. The bridge of the song always strengthened us for the day ahead, as we intoned with firm resolve:

“And there’s bound to be rough waters

And I know I’ll take some falls

But with the good Lord as my captain

I can make them through them all.”

It was a simple existence, yet immensely satisfying. Those mornings filled me with hope and joy for the day ahead, and I always felt the Lord’s presence with me because of those daily appointments.

As the sun rises each morning, it must also set. This constant is as real and abiding as the Father’s reckless love. Another vivid portrayal of this truth is connected to a spectacular solar display. In 2013 my family and my sister Joni ventured to the Grand Canyon together. Since watching the Brady Bunch descend the Grand Canyon on mules in a two-part special, I had wanted to explore that National Park.

After a long day of car travel and new landscapes, we arrived at the Desert View Entrance. Upon climbing the stairs of a limestone tower, we were met with our first views of the canyon and the Colorado River below. It was a spectacular panorama. The cloudy sky made the scenery even more mesmerizing and vibrant. It was fitting that a plaque was affixed to the stone, declaring the truth of Psalm 66:4: “All the earth worships Thee; they sing praises to Thy name.”

We found a Ranger program that would coincide with the sunset. The kids were in shorts and windbreakers, as we knew the temperature would change, and Aunt Joni set them up with hot chocolate. The Ranger was a fabulous storyteller, but the real entertainment took us by surprise.

The sun became a pulsing orb, full of life, seeming to bounce on both plateau and mesa, illuminating them from within. My sister and I sat side by side, transfixed by the splendor and the grandeur of God’s handiwork, evidenced by the majestic palette of color that washed across the ten-mile wide chasm of canyon before our very eyes, in wake of its descent.

There are no words to capture the fullness of beauty of that setting sun across millions of years captured in layers of stone, miles of carving and depths of a subsequent river force called the Colorado River. It was a translucent primordial painting of the depths and spaces that remained.

We were each transfixed and fully aware of the Father’s artistic hand. Another song came to mind, one from the hymnal at church, “For the beauty of the skies!” It was a breathtaking, reckless display of love!

Should I want a daily reminder of His reckless love, I can make my appointments. I have two glorious choices: sunrise or sunset!

Bonnie Shaw is wife to Chris, mother of four perpetually hungry offspring, and in continual anticipation of summer and hot weather. An educator by degree and lifelong learner by habit, she consumes stacks of books, inhabiting both her imagination and contemplation as she seeks connection with truth, ideas, and the laughter of friends traveling the same road. In relentless pursuit of more perfectly trusting in the Lord’s divine mercy, she is so very thankful for His grace and the peace and shelter of His presence as well as the example of others who love Him.

Copyright 2019 Bonnie Shaw