To read or not to read…well, that’s not really a question for me. I confess I’m a complete bookworm. I love to read. I typically read one or two books a month in addition to journaling and reading God’s Word. But having an extended amount of time to use as I please on sabbatical, I’m reading a lot. I am now convinced that reading is one of my favorite ways to spend my time. After being here about a week, I actually read a book in one day (A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, author of Kiterunner).
While normally my reading revolves around the spiritual (books on Christian living, discipleship, spiritual disciplines, the Church) I’ve been reading whatever I want. Here are two books I’ve read so far.
The Hawk & the Dove (by Penelope Wilcock)
This is a work of fiction where a mother shares stories about monks from the 13th Century with her teenage daughter. The stories are ones of deep humility and grace and carry with them powerful lessons for life. The daughter comments about one of the monks who continually chooses to suffer to teach his fellow brothers about Christ saying, “He wanted so much to be like Jesus, he wasn’t afraid to put himself in the place where he was vulnerable to hurt.”
One part of the story that spoke to me was in between stories of the monastery when mother and daughter were curled up next to the fire after a whirlwind of friends and family leave, recognizing the peaceful moment. Mother says, “’It’s nice when you feel peaceful inside, and you can curl up by the fire in a peaceful house. Too much racket in the house and it frays you at the edges a bit; but if you lose the peace on the inside of you, you could be in the quietest place on earth and your nerves would still jangle.”
I confess, too often I rely on creating an environment of peace around me rather than relying on my internal peace…Jesus; the peace that surpasses all understanding.
The Reason for God (Timothy Keller)
This is a book written for skeptics of the Christian faith and was a New York Times Bestseller. It is a must read for anyone and everyone. If you struggle with doubts and believe, if you don’t believe and don’t have any doubts, or anywhere in between this book is for you. It is intellectually challenging, engaging and wonderfully transformative.
There is way too much to summarize or share, but one section that stuck out was his summary of the Gospel. Keller writes, “The Christian Gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to great humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I don’t think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.”