Today I read the last page of my second book for the week, and I am completely wrecked (more on that later). I honestly don’t know what came over me the past seven days. You would’ve thought I took a time machine back two years to my book devouring days as a seminary student. Looking back, I think the agonizing pressure cooker that was my existence as a student may have robbed me of the treasure of a good book for the past few years. I was so burnt out on assigned reading, desperately attempting to make it less painful by pairing it with a latte and a bright colored highlighter, that on graduation day I vowed mandatory book consumption would no longer be my nemesis. I had won and I was free. But instead of maintaining a healthy pursuit of knowledge and frolicking in the freedom of being able to read books that actually interest me, I took a hiatus from the sport altogether. What a waste of time. Although, maybe I needed almost two years to prepare me for the aftermath of reading these two gems.
This week has been a whirlwind of encouragement, challenge and deep life questioning. Even as I write, I don’t know where to start. The thoughts running through my over analytical mind would absolutely exhaust you (I know, because they are exhausting me). Maybe I’ll begin with a little bit about the books I read. Maybe I’ll even tell you what they were…
Book number one: God Loves Ugly: And Love Makes Beautiful, by Christa Black.
Book number two: 7, by Jen Hatmaker.
For the sake of boring you with a book report, here are some overall thoughts and what I took from each.
God Loves Ugly is a raw and absolutely fantastic retelling of Christa Black’s journey through sin and struggle, pain and addiction, rescue and restoration. What a story of redemption, of God drawing her to himself and now using it all for his glory and in sweet ministry to others. She encouraged God’s call on my own life, she encouraged me to fight against the lies and deception that I too often buy into, and she encouraged me to see myself as God sees me. Walking away from this book makes me want to fight, dream big and love who I am because of Christ in me.
7 was just as radical in a completely different and wonderful way. It was like someone put my life, all the ways I think and do normal everyday living, in a blender and pushed puree. Not chop or blend, but liquefy. It was messy and disgusting. I’m rethinking the way I live, the way I spend, the things I own, the things I eat. Most of all, I have a perspective on my life that I am desperate to keep a death grip on. Man does my life not matter. And not in a self-deprecating, self-loathing, depressed and paralyzed sort of way. But my life is short, a mist (James 4:14), and it is not in the least bit meant to be about me. So what am I doing? And is it for what really matters? There is great freedom knowing and being reminded that my purpose here on earth is bigger than me. It makes me want to do the hard thing, the risky thing, the thing that doesn’t make sense but takes faith, and dependence on the Lord, all for his glory.
I guess my challenge and encouragement to you (a sweet friend and I call this “challenge-ment”, it’s fine, join us!) is to open up a book. I think God needed to teach and challenge and redirect me through the voices of others. There was a freshness in learning from the wisdom others have gleaned, in these cases, gleaned through much hardship and discomfort.
But do you ever walk away from something that has challenged you, too overwhelmed by where to start that you never do? My fear is that I will do nothing. No lasting change will have been evoked in my heart. Even if I make some changes in the way I live or the way I think, I pray God has chiseled out some things in my heart, replacing them with new truths about who He is and who He wants me to be. I’m praying for that heart change. For something that lasts. Something that sticks. I think I’m really in for it. God is moving and I am praying for big things! Join me.