Remember that book I was telling you about – the one called A Long Obedience in the Same Direction? It has been sitting on my window sill ever since, staring me down, daring me to finish it. I was sure it would be full of solid advice about how to persevere and be obedient even in hard times. I know that this is generally an extremely irritating important and worthy lesson but somehow it just seems so boring, and, well, long. And my concentration span is just so short. (On a side note, I would like to feel that I am so quickly bored due to my high intelligence. In reality though, I’m most likely slightly ADD).
So, in a cathartic fit of wishing to somehow work on my hopeless character flaws, I took the book out with me while sunbathing today and was very pleasantly surprised. The chapters were not long, as expected from the title, but bite-sized, easily digestible and encouraging rather than depressing. Here are some of my highlights:
we can act ourselves into a new way of feeling much quicker than we can feel ourselves into a new way of acting. Worship is an act that develops feelings for God, not a feeling for God that is expressed in an act of worship. When we obey the command to praise God in worship, our deep, essential need to be in relationship with God is nurtured (p.54).
A friend of mine wrote recently about sacramental worship and I think this quote has a lot to do with what he meant. When we physically participate in worship together with God’s people, we are changed. Our lives are lined up with God’s decisions; we remember His stories and the ways He acts; we participate in His peace and security. We are sharpened again by His presence.
On God as our help…
we live our joy among people who neither understand nor encourage us. But the content of our lives is God, not humanity. We are not scavenging in the dark alleys of the world, poking in its garbage cans for a bare subsistence. We are travelling in the light toward God who is rich in mercy and strong to save. It is Christ, not culture, that defines our lives. It is the help we experience, not the hazards we risk, that shapes our days (p.79).
Ever feel misunderstood? Like everyone, even a lot of the people who love you, honestly think you’re crazy? Me too. But it is God who defines me, helps me, is rich enough and strong enough and altogether enough for me.
I still haven’t finished the book, (see above comments on concentration span) but I plan to and I’m sure I’ll have more to write about it yet.
And you really should read it too…