Don’t add anything. Just steward what you have with joy.
The conviction came not long after the new year had begun. Good timing too. It was 2020. I looked around. My kids didn’t need all those toys I’d bought for Christmas. But let’s be real. I’m the one that can’t pass up all the color, whimsy, and cuteness, especially when I have two, small excuses at home.
Before the kids came along, I thought spiritual growth resulted purely from study and meditation - that the more I read, the more I’d get it figured out. I still love to read, to learn, to make sense of all the spiritual, emotional, mental, social, and physical pieces floating around. But I kept feeling that prod to action. To put all that knowledge to good use. To DO.
Because, after all, love isn’t a feeling.
It’s a choice. Action. And it requires people to practice on.
Love Does: Discover A Secretly Incredible Life In An Ordinary World is a New York Times Bestseller by Bob Goff, law professor and Honorary Consul for the Republic of Uganda to the US. I know, I know, I’m behind. It’s been out for eight years now. *shrug*.
BUT! I’m still writing a review because I was wrong.
I thought Crazy Love (Francis Chan) couldn’t be topped in terms of making me see God differently, causing me to almost re-read the book cover to cover immediately upon initial completion. But I felt the exact same way reading Love Does. I went into full nerd mode with my blue highlighter.
I love his conversational, matter-of-fact writing style and escaped out to the deck to read it whenever my kids were busy with their Dad or the TV. It’s full of short and sweet chapters of all the random life stories that have reshaped how Bob thinks of God, life and faith. Before I bought the book, I read a negative review saying the whole thing was simply Bob bragging about the cool stuff he’s able to do. And yes, there was one story in particular where I thought, ok, Bob, the rest of us are not diplomats and our children wouldn’t be given the time of day from other world leaders.
But I still find his tales inspiring precisely because it’s a good example of a story Jesus tells in the Bible: A man put his servants in charge of his property before leaving on a journey. He entrusted them with varying amounts, yet when he returned, he said the exact same thing to the two servants who had invested and yielded returns on his property...regardless of the amount they began with. The two servants he praised had each doubled their boss’s money for him. (The third one, given the least amount, couldn't even handle that and had hidden it away, denouncing his boss’s character to excuse his laziness).
Bob is tenacious, has been given a lot, and is constantly seeking to give it back out of love. The book is an inspiring reminder of how much power we have regardless of our circumstances, because of the “reverse economy” Jesus talks about. We give to receive. We serve to lead. We give up our life to truly find it.
After becoming a parent and having my alone time limited, I was pretty happy to discover that I’d actually matured more, learned more, with less book time. Less study time. And I’m saying this as someone who learns a tremendous amount through reading.
I started really paying attention to nature, what it tells us about God and life. What it was like to truly trust God with my self-care and give away my time and energy when I didn’t feel like it. What it was like to plan my day around blessing others and creating good things rather than just my own comfort. How much I could learn by jumping on a mountain bike or digging for weeds in the dirt. Invisible stuff makes no sense without a physical frame of reference. I’m convinced that’s becoming more and more important in a digital age.
In a chapter titled Memorizing Jesus Bob says, “I used to think I could learn about Jesus by studying Him, but now I know Jesus doesn’t want stalkers...What I realized about my faith is that I was doing just that, collecting information and memorizing things about God.” Bob’s solution was to start a “Bible doing” group instead of a Bible study, where God’s words are read and he and his friends focus on what they are going to do about it. He wonders how creepy it would be to study one’s loved ones instead of simply doing things with them. Like a stalker. Good point.
And that’s what every chapter is like. At the end, after a chuckle, and a couple mmhmm’s, you end up thinking, “Good point, Bob, good point. Now where in my life can I get moving?”