When describing a good book, people often use phrases like "page turner" and "I couldn't put it down".
I've found that I have a very different reaction to a great book. Well, it's more than just to a great book. It could be a speaker, or a song, or even a friend. Really, it's more about feeling convicted than anything else. I used to think conviction and guilt were the same feeling, but now it seems guilt always intends to paralyze me or hold me back, whereas conviction gives me an urge to act, after the initial surge of painful truth.
I've read a few books recently which have affected me this way. Instead of wanting to read every page as fast as possible, I find I get the urge to slam the book shut, shove it to the corner of the table, and then knock it off in the floor
The books that come to mind right now are Red Letter Christians, The Tangible Kingdom, and now Wrecked. These books tell me my life could be better, but it's going to be harder. They tell me that the pursuit of happiness will come up empty, but the pursuit of God's kingdom will reward me a thousand times over and somehow still manage to make the world a better place. They speak to that part of my soul that is often so threatened by the culture I live in. They tell me I thought I knew what God cared about, but He is still just as much a mystery as he was the first time I recognized him.
I may not be asked to trek across Asia, or to live in a box, and I'm aware that God's call looks different for everyone. I would never assume that we should all take a vow of poverty and give up a successful career. I do know what God is asking of me, though. Some of it is simple, yet hard, like laying down my own will every day to care for my family. Some of it is not so cut and dry, like continually writing when my time and confidence run low.
Also, and I know that this one can come across a little brash, so please hear me in the right spirit, but Dennis and I know that we are called to a countercultural lifestyle. God has called us to tread lightly as far as treasures of this world goes. It's not a sacrifice, really, God made us to joyfully pursue this simplicity, and we like it this way. It gets hard when I feel misunderstood, though. I don't like it when people see us as a charity case, or, worse, think maybe we are just irresponsible. I get self-conscious about it sometimes. We enjoy pleasures like good food and travel, but having nice things just doesn't really fall on our radar. It's that simple. We prefer sharing what we have and seeing God use us as a channel to bless others.
Yep, we're totally saints. My 15 minutes is up, and it should be noted that it took 3 sittings to get 15 minutes of writing time. It was just one of those days. So, if I'm not making any sense or I sound like a pious patootyhole, blame it on the interruptions.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go bury my copy of "Wrecked" in the backyard and never look at it again.