So here I am at a spiritual crossroads. This is when for whatever reason (perhaps it was predestined) I picked up a couple of books by 2 authors who are Calvinists. But I did not know that at the time.
The first book was "Desiring God" by John Piper. I felt it a thick and difficult read at times, but I devoured it anyway. His premise of Christian Hedonism was intriguing, and on many levels made a lot of sense. Now it was me vesting my joy in the beauty of a wonderful, sovereign God, instead of God vesting his enjoyment in me. "God is most glorified when I am most satisfied in Him," as Piper puts it. Calvinism or not, this is holy and righteous stuff.
The second book was one by Jared C. Wilson, Your Jesus is too Safe." In light of my experiences and feelings, it was just the right title at the right time. More great stuff about how God is at the center and I am not. These Calvinist guys definitely have a way of speaking to my heart.
The God lowered the boom. I found out about a Calvinist preacher named Matt Chandler. I saw his witness in the midst of a devastating diagnosis that might cost him his life. I started listening to his preaching. It was more than just telling me what to do, every message seemed to have a theological base of God on high and me not. He painted his messages with strokes that even in the midst of hard teachings made God look beautiful. My heart was changing. I wanted to know more about this kind of God. What followed was books by Platt, Tchivijian, more Piper, Chan, and others. These men were showing me that it was not enough to get to heaven, but I needed to love and worship the God who was enthroned there. And He is lovable!
They also let me see that God loves me. But just because He loves me doesn't give me a blank check to do whatever I want. I need to love Him in return. Through these men, I have seen a God that before has been unknown to me. A God that has seen me through some incredible ordeals. A God who is molding me, perhaps for some things in this life, and definitely for some things in the next.
I haven't (yet) finished reading Calvin's Institutes. I have begun a book by Jonathon Edwards. And I don't agree with everything I have read. But I am in good company, because they don't all agree with one another either. Am I a Calvinist? Perhaps. There is much that I agree with, much that I find beautiful and that I find to agree with Scripture. Time will tell as I joyfully continue this path with a much more open mind than ever before.