Monday, June 30, 2008

Book review (sort of)

Reaching for the Invisible God, by Philip Yancey.

I'm not really going to give a book review, because this one is a book that you will either be interested in, or you won't. So, for those of you who are interested, here are some of the thoughts I found most intriguing.

From the back cover:

"This relationship with a God we can't see, hear, or touch - how does it really work? ... Philip Yancey explores six foundational areas: our thirst for God, faith during times when God seems unavailable, the nature of God himself, our personal relationship with God, stages along the way, and the end goal of spiritual transformation."

What I appreciate about Philip Yancey is how he acknowledges that life (even, or especially, as a Christian) is difficult, and that there are times we struggle with our faith. Christians don't have a "hotline" to God. He doesn't answer our prayers in the timing, or ways, that we hope for. Yet there is value to the struggle.

"Perhaps we should say 'Christ is the pattern' rather than 'Christ is the answer,' because Jesus' own life did not offer the answers most people are looking for. Not once did he use supernatural powers to improve his family, protect himself from harm, or increase his comfort and wealth." (pg. 273)

"Life is not a problem to be solved but a work to be made, and that work may well utilize much raw material that we would prefer to do without. God's goodness does not mean we will not get hurt, not in this fallen world at least. His goodness goes deeper than pleasure and pain, somehow incorporating both." (pg. 274) I know exactly what he means. Somehow, life's tragedies serve to underline life's triumphs. I don't know how to explain this.

"'I am the way, the truth, and the life,' Jesus said. Truth and life may supply the motives for following, yet in the end a relationship with God, like any relationship, boils down to the 'way,' a daily process of inviting God into the details of my existence." (pg. 283)

And my favorite, the one I've been chewing on for days now. "Those who attempt to use God as a means of self-realization almost always come away disappointed. God has in mind something like the reverse: to use us, the least likely vessels of his grace, as his self-realization on earth." (pg. 276) What a way to live!

This one's for Kelli : " 'It is not up to you to finish the work, but neither are you free not to take it up,' goes an old Talmudic saying. The work is God's work, the work of reclaiming and redeeming a planet badly damaged. For the Jew and Christian both, that work means bringing a touch of peace, justice, hope, healing, shalom wherever our hands touch." (pg. 277)

Isn't that fantastic? The work of God using us, is a message for all of us, no matter our faith walk. Isn't it a beautiful thought, to bring "peace, justice, hope, healing, shalom" wherever we are? That's what I aspire to.

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