Chapter 31: Live in the Divine Romance

Live in the Divine Romance

The church I attended as a child sprinkled babies. They didn’t wait and baptize believers after they learned what believing was all about. My Methodism wet me very early—a tradition held, a body held, a belief held.

From baby to little boy, I aged. Trying to know God and love God and live for God better, and trying to understand better what knowing God and loving God and living for God meant, I sprinted into my teens.

Often, I failed.

Often, I felt a need for another cleansing.

I still recall parts of a conversation with my cousin Dennis Clark. Though eight years older, he took time for me. We played sports and watched sports and cheered sports. After he surrendered his life to Jesus, Dennis wanted to be sure I joined him in that journey. So, as we sat in his house at halftime of a college football bowl game waiting for a New Year to arrive, I prayed the prayer. Though I now know Jesus had been with me in many ways through my early years, that night helped me dive into the life of a divine romance. And though I wasn’t sure about everything and though I am still not sure about everything, I was sure enough to know what, and Who, I needed. I meant what I prayed.

Later, since I had returned to what I previously said I believed, I desired a full baptism this time rather than a dip—all of me underwater as immersed as possible for as long as possible. Joe Swails, my mentor and teacher and coach and minister, agreed to get me wet. He dropped me deep down into Lake Hartwell. Was the water more holy through the thunder we heard? Was the lightning not-too-close-but-not-far-enough-away a sign? No and no. But Joe helped the ritual symbolize purification from death. His ex- ample of living the divine romance didn’t end when we hurried out of the lake before the storm became worse. His influence included listening to me and loving me, challenging me and mentoring me, teaching me to pray and helping me learn to live the divine romance in all of life’s uneven surfaces.

We eventually had a radio show and a prayer group—titling them, and whatever else we did and whoever else we were, Praise Unlimited. Joe selected the name. We kept it. I guess that is what that baptism was. I guess that is what Joe and Dennis and Mama and many others were, and are, teaching me. A way of giving praise. Unlimited. In the storm. In the water. In the tradition. In the moment.

Praise is a phrase that guides my mind back to the water. Praise as a lifestyle, not just a song. Praise as an attitude, not just a tradition. Praise, without a set time or a structured agenda, can be an unlimited lifestyle even in these uneven surfaces of life. Praise, through long walks and difficult days, through uncomfortable questions and terrible news, can come as a choice to make while living in a romance with the Divine.

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  1. When have been times your relationship with Jesus was more about religious duty than divine romance?
  2. How can the chapters of this book become methods developing a better view of Jesus and a better relationship with Him?
  3. How can you apply each principle and move toward a healthier relationship with yourself, with God, and with other people?


I have had the privilege of knowing Chris Maxwell for over twenty years. His voice is one of encouragement, steadiness and direction in my life. His words bring pastoral adjustments with encouragement to live fully alive. His words provide a nudge towards a place of balance—an opportunity to discover equilibrium in life and in matters of the soul.

Dr. Charlie Dawes

Lead Pastor, Hill City Church, Alexandria, VA

Chris Maxwell’s book Equilibrium is a psychologist’s dream handbook. It reads like a therapist doing the complex, mysterious, yet meaningful work of helping a client regain balance in his or her life.

Beverly J. Oxley, PhD

Licensed Psychologist, Founder and Director of Wellsprings Psychological Resources Founder and Executive Director of The Ark Family Preservation Center