Weeks ago I started a blog post about a new microwave giving me more precious counter space, and a new Instant Pot giving me almost inordinate joy, and a two-year old and baby following me around cleaning light fixtures, and about house cleaning and soul cleaning. I wrote about finding a long-lost notebook of quotes from one of the best books I have ever read. I had this book review in the middle and some tidy hopeful comments at the end about trusting God and how it makes everything better. Thanks to beta reader feedback, I decided to scrap most of that writing.
Without further ado, the book review:
Around five years ago, I was weary of evangelical authors who wrote on and on about analyzing the past to heal or move on from it, with God’s help, of course. They wrote about problems and where they came from and why they affect us as they do. There is a place for doing such introspection, but it needs the balance of learning about the greatness and ability of God.
Then I read Finding God by Dr. Larry Crabb. The back cover says, “we are more preoccupied with solving our problems than with finding God. We’ve got things backward… Instead of using God to solve our problems, we need to use our problems to find God.” In the introduction he talks about not needing a plan to follow, but a Person to trust.
This book was copyrighted in 1993, so it is not new. Proof of that is the picture of Dr. Crabb wearing large black-framed glasses, the kind in style again now.
I devoured the book, then went back and read it carefully, jotting down quotes in a little notebook. It is hard for me to leave any of the quotes out, but copyright law prohibits sharing more than brief quotes. I think you should get your own copy.
“It is healthy to face the pain in our souls, to feel bad when others violate our dignity, to admit to ourselves how desperately we long to feel loved and valued and accepted as we are. But, in the middle of all this… the point of Christianity is not us, but the God who cares for us.” (p. 19)
“The deepest pleasures of life don’t satisfy–they point us forward.” (p.56)
“Finding God means to rest in his goodness through poverty, lost opportunities, and plane crashes.” (p.85)
“If we are to find God as he wants to be found, if we are to know him in a way that frees us to live with joy and purpose and self-control, then we must not work primarily to solve our problems. Instead, we must work to dismantle our fallen structure, replacing the foundation of doubt with a rock solid trust in God.” (p. 97)
“The godly structure begins with trusting and loving God, and it ends by freeing us to love people with all the beauty and richness of our unique identities.” (p. 147)
“We must learn to tell the stories of our lives–the good, the bad, the ugly–to explore who we are: twisted image-bearers who live together in a community of other twisted image-bearers in the presence of an untwisted God who is slowly making us straight. We will never find God by denying who we are and where we have been. The route to God never takes us around our problems.” (p. 163)
“God is ashamed to be known as the God of people who devote their energies to building a satisfying life in this world, who take lightly the promise of a better country, and who live for the present. He is not ashamed, however, to be called the God of people who enjoy legitimate pleasures now but who clearly refuse to build their cities here; who look forward to a better home in another land; who are willing to feel the ache of unsatisfied longings without making any demands for relief; and who are grateful for the chance to serve God in an unfriendly world until they find their rest in an eternal city. See Hebrews 11, particularly verses 13-16. (p. 174)
As I read over these quotes again, I see where I have been trying to build my own safe city. I see areas of selfishness and a lack of true service to God. I have not attained to that passage from Hebrews, but thinking again about these truths invites me to wrestle until I rest in God’s constant goodness. When I enjoy legitimate pleasures, I want them to draw me to worship the Creator of pleasure and the God of grace.
Dr. Crabb says this about that grace: “God’s grace frees me from needing to be better than I am and frees me to face what I’m really like without giving up. The shock of seeing the truth about myself enables me to embrace God’s grace more fully.” (p. 113)
The housekeeping analogy for soul clutter and dirt is overused, I know, but bear with me. I leave you this one revelation that has been shocking me now for weeks: I keep my soul like I keep my house. I often do not see the dirt, because I am lazy, disorganized, and lacking right focus. It may sound odd, but it is such a relief to know what is out of balance.