Our lives are directed and dominated by the narratives or stories that we believe. If we live in the narrative that God is against us or that we are not lovable or valuable, our choices in life will reflect that. If we live in the narrative that God is good and that our lives are of great value, we will choose a path that reflects that belief, following God’s voice.
James Bryan Smith has written a book that has quickly become one of my all-time favorites, The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God that Jesus Knows . It was sent to me for free by IV Press since I am on staff with InterVarsity, and a friend highly recommended it. I read it, and then turned around and read it again.Each chapter of the book focuses on a different aspect of God’s character (God is Good, God is Love, God is Holy) and talks about the false narratives that we believe about God in that area. He then writes what Jesus said and revealed about God, the true story of who God is, and encourages us to live in that truth.The writing is clear, gracious, and packed with truth. Chapter 8, which deals with the Believer’s identity in Christ, is worth the price of the book. (I am now in the middle of his next book in the series, The Good and Beautiful Life which teaches about the Kingdom of God from the Sermon on the Mount).
I have also recently finished The Call by Os Guiness. In the midst of feeling very unsettled in Glenwood, I was looking for some direction in hearing from the Lord and a friend commended this book to me. Os is old school – he tells it like it is in the vein of Oswald Chambers and J. Oswald Sanders (what is it with guys named Oswald), and the book is not a formula for figuring out life, but rather a reorientation to who God is and what it is we are called to. We are called TO God alone, and then He directs our specific responses to that call. We are responsible TO God alone, and we are not responsible FOR anyone else. If we live response-able to God, responding to His voice, all else is just details. We are called to live our lives to an audience of One, the One who directs our paths. Each chapter has follow up questions, and then it says, “Listen to Jesus of Nazareth, answer His call.” Over and over that message is repeated. At the end of the book I did not have life all figured out, but I did have a heart that was more tuned to listening for God’s voice and more willing to follow His call.