Hmmm. I’ve been rolling this around for a while now. Let’s see if I can put it into words. If you know me well, you know that I love to read. And that I love to read books that challenge me, stretch me, lead me to God, and make me think.
What I’ve been thinking lately is that pursuing that sort of reading is a two-edged sword. I have been greatly encouraged and helped by SO many wonderful authors and books, but something is becoming more clear to me. God speaks to different people along different lines. If you are William Wilberforce or Abraham Lincoln the highest expression of your faith is to abolish slavery. A Dawson Trotman finds memorizing Scripture to be the bedrock of sustaining a walk with God. Mother Teresa finds God closest in giving herself away to the neediest she can find. The faith of Smith Wigglesworth finds expression in being an instrument of healing, while Joni Eareckson Tada extols the value of suffering with joy. Andrew Murray’s works are often based on the truth of living in union with Christ. Ann Voskamp writes that giving thanks is the secret that undergirds all prayer and joy in this life. Hannah Whitall Smith sums up the happy Christian life in two words, surrender and trust. There are others whose entire focus is on worship and music as the gateway to His presence. Some minister to many through their powerful call to serious discipleship, while others use humor to show the face of God. E.M. Bounds brings all of life under the canopy of prayer at all times for all people. John Eldredge tells us to follow our heart in order to find our life, while others tell us we must lay our own plans and agendas aside in order to follow and obey God. Evangelism, tithing, fasting, church participation, and the list of topics and seeming contradictions goes on and on.
The truth is none of them are wrong, and each view has its followers. God has wired us each differently, making us each a unique individual. He, alone, knows our heart and how to reach it. He has made us each in His image, but how large and multi-faceted is His image? We will never know Him from every side, and He always has more of Himself to share with us. So, while reading all these things may be helpful and eye-opening, it can also pull us off track.
I am more convinced than ever that what is best is to focus simply on the Word of God and on Him, Himself. Spending time in His Word and in prayer with Him will open the “secret” that our own heart needs to see to fulfill His purpose in our lives. We may think that what we find is the key for everyone, but it probably isn’t. It may well be helpful to some, but not one of us can stand in the place of God in someone else’s life and tell them “here’s what you need to do”. That’s His job, and if we will take time with Him He will be faithful to do it.
Because God is so multi-faceted it takes all of us to even begin to show the world Who He is. They will see in each of us only a small piece and part of the whole, but let us be true to Him in the way that He has led us. And let us allow each other to follow Christ as He has revealed Himself to us. There is much to learn while still living authentically as God’s child and handiwork.
P.S. If I have given you a book to read, I still want you to read it. If it doesn’t resonate with you, put it down till another time. God has much to show you.