I’m a book freak. I love to read, but more importantly, I love to read books that will help paint a lasting picture on the canvass of my soul. Books that are rich in poetic words and wisdom are right up my alley. Why? Because they make me stop and ponder matters of the heart.
Reflection is a necessary part of growth, but many of us are too busy to take that time to be quiet. So first up for me is a book that helped me do just that:
This is a classic book that should be read by all. It’s a look at the spiritual disciplines and how to practice them in your life. Don’t let the title fool you into thinking these are more rules to follow in your faith. The disciplines were developed to help cultivate an intimate relationship with Christ.
What I learned: Silence and solitude were the biggest challenges for me. This book is key to finding out how beneficial it is for us to actively seek out stillness and be alone with the Father. I also learned about contemplation prayer. I teach the disciplines to my clients as a way to connect with the heart of God. There is no better way.
Everyone struggles with unanswered prayer at some point in his or her lives, and Jerry Sittser does a great job helping us understand the complexities of the sometimes-messy business of doubting God. This is a masterpiece.
What I learned: That prayer isn’t about what God does for me, but what God does in me. It’s also the way we build an intimate relationship with God.
Another masterpiece dealing with the enigma of suffering, and written from a woman has had more than her fair share. The thing I love best about this book is that Joni doesn’t give trite cliché’s on suffering, she digs deep from personal experience and provides relevant answers for the hard questions. She makes a solid case that our sufferings matter to the Almighty and they are providing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our present circumstances.
What I learned: That God is more interested in my growth than my comfort. That although the trials in life sometimes don’t seem to be evenly distributed and we aren’t privy to the “whys” God has a specific plan for my life and my sufferings.
This little book made a huge impression on me. Counselor Paula Rhinehart writes about washing up on the shores of midlife only to find herself feeling empty and without purpose. This is a great book that digs deep.
What I learned: That life and loss can cause us to lose heart. In order to resurrect our hearts, stir our passions and re-invest in what matters we have to give our hearts with reckless abandon to the God who has been searching for them all along. Only then will we find true fulfillment.
This book is a raw an honest account of a man who has experienced monumental loss. Hit by a drunk driver, he lost his wife, mother, and young daughter. Jerry writes straight from the heart.
What I learned: The losses of life are inevitable. Loved ones die and dreams are shattered, most lie beyond my control. What I can control is my response to these losses and allow them to shape and transform my heart into something wondrous.
This was the first book I read by Larry Crabb. I love his transparency and how real he is about his own personal struggles. He gets real with God and wrestles with some tough topics on life and faith. Dr. Crabb says that doubting God is our deepest problem because when we doubt God’s goodness we are in fact left to take over responsibility for our own well-being.
What I learned: There are so many incredible nuggets in this book that I have pondered for years. But what Dr. Crabb echo’s so poignantly is: life is painful, we are selfish, nothing satisfies us, sorrow outweighs joy, and nothing good is certain. Every path we take leads us back to self.
This is the state we find ourselves in when we confront brokenness. These were heavy words, challenging me to the core of my being. The only solution is finding God; in Crabb’s words “I know you (God) are all I have, but I don’t know you well enough for you to be all I need.”
What I learned: This book allowed me to entertain some tough questions about life, faith and suffering, and set me out on the journey to find the answers. In the process I found the heart of God.
This book calls us to search for God and listen for his voice in the most astounding of places. Ken is an extremely gifted writer and this book will open your eyes to a new way of seeing, hearing and experiencing God.
What I learned: That God is a pursuer God. He is searching for me each day and lest I’m not careful, I will miss him. “I will seek him and find him, when I search for him with all my heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
Eldridge is a master storyteller. His focus is always the heart. This book is a must read for men and women.
What I learned: The losses of life have waged an assault on our hearts. We are in a battle to reclaim our hearts because they matter to God. We must re-invest our hearts with a bigger plan and purpose in mind. (Hmmm…sounds like my book)
If you love to read and love the idea of growth even more, each of these books provides priceless wisdom and answers to life’s toughest questions. I hope you will be blessed. And please let me hear from you.
Photo cc by Moyan_Brenn on Flickr.