Wednesday, September 21, 2016

book reviews

There's an online forum for missionary women and Christian women who live and work overseas. I know two of the women who helped create that wonderful online community. Even though I'm not working overseas anymore, many of their posts still resonate. One of the many fellowship venues they offer is an online book club. They read 3-5 books a year and have online discussions. I've never participated in a discussion or small group since I'm not truly part of the community. But this past year one of the discussions on a book they read jumped from my "books I want to one day read" list to an Amazon purchase. Yeah, I know. I sometimes ignore the book and fabric moratorium I placed myself under.

So...A City of Tranquil Lights by Bo Caldwell. I LOVED reading this book. Even though the time frame is years before the China I knew, so much of it still resonated. I cried and hurt and nodded my head and laughed some as I read through it. And then I get to the end, read an excerpt by the author and discovered it's actually a novel, though based on the life experiences of several missionaries. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by that, but the book was/is very well written. While the author does not go into a lot of detail about the feelings of the characters, he does touch on many issues and thoughts that people working in China have. And I like the fact that he covered the entirety of the life, not just the pleasant parts.

And then a friend of mine suggested a book to me called Same Kind of Different as Me  by Hall & Moore. For some reason, I thought this book was fiction, until I got to the end and discovered it was a true story. And that made me stop and think even more deeply on the topics it mentioned and thoughts about it subjects (wealth, poverty, homelessness, education, societal roles & obligations). I actually enjoyed reading the book, even though parts of it were hard to read. I commented to my friend the other night that I really enjoyed it, but didn't think my mother would. Turns out my friend was actually offended by the book. It was interesting hearing her viewpoint, which was totally different from mine, of the book.

And the last book is not a review of the whole book, but just one comment from chapter one. The ladies at our church are reading through None Like Him (10 Ways God is Different From Us) by Jen Wilkin. And rather than retell what she wrote, I'm just going to post it here.
This is why the Great Commandment takes such care to instruct us how to love those who are "only human." It tells a limited human to love God and others as limitlessly as possible. But to love self and others as limitlessly as possible, we must learn to die daily to our propensity to measure and compare our limits...
She then goes on to point out the God counts our sorrows and uses Psalm 56:8 as an example. I've heard this verse quoted SO many times by people who are struggling and hurting, finding comfort that God is aware of their struggles to sleep when overcome with despair, that He has counted EVERY SINGLE TEAR we will shed in our lifetime, and has a record of them. But yet, I've never considered this in relation to the fact that there is a limit to the amount of hurt and sorrow we experience, but his sorrow (He bore all of ours, after all), cannot be counted. Neither can we count his mercy nor his grace. So our infinite God asks us to love others the way he loves us...without counting. I've never looked at this passage this way before. I've often thought about I Corinthians 13 and how we're not to count the wrongs of others if we love them, but I've always limited that to wrongs. I've never stopped to consider that "measuring" or "comparing" people is one way to NOT love them. I hope I can remember that when those situations that rub me the wrong way arise and I can focus on them as the person God created and not what I want or how they're measuring up to my expectations of them. I fear this is going to be much easier said than done.

So that's what I've been reading/finishing lately.

No comments: