Things in common…

I love fiction—it is a great way to just escape for an hour or two.  My life is not something that needs to be escaped as a general rule, but sometimes I love the opportunity to just be somewhere else without having to pack and drive, so fiction can be the perfect (and cheaper!) solution.  When I’m in a reading mood, I immerse deeply (woe to the one who interrupts me!) and I read quickly…so quickly, in fact, that my husband has declined to spend further gift money on books for me because, “Twenty dollars only lasts you about an hour or two and then it’s just gone and you need something else!  It’s too frustrating to think that the gift is gone that fast.”  I happen to agree with him.  That’s why I love having access to 3 different libraries.  These days, I try to reserve the book money for those I think may actually become permanent residents on my bookshelves…along with many, many others…one day I’ll count them, but not today.

If you’ve been anywhere near the Books on the Table page on this blog, you may have noticed that the content hasn’t changed since I started.  There’s a reason for that:  I’m taking my time.  Actually, I’ve read at least 20 books—generally fiction—in the last 2 months. (Keep in mind that I had some vacation time on my own last month!)  By the time I could sit down and list them all, I could have been half-way through one, so I picked that option.  The ones listed on my blog page are the ones I’m taking in steps.  Sometimes you just need to go slowly so you can get the full effect of something.

Right now, I’m slowly working my way through Jen Hatmaker’s book,  7:  an experimental mutiny against excess.  The book is Jen’s chronicle of her decision to rebel against overindulgence in the seven areas of clothes, shopping, waste, food, possessions, media and stress.  Her writing style is extremely casual, honest and often hilarious—and all with the purpose of illustrating how she was drawn closer to God by giving up or at least severely limiting some things that society insists are just normal parts of life.

I was drawn to this book for several reasons.  The number 7 has always been a significant one for me—there are people in this world who receive emails, notes or packages from me signed only with the number 7 and they know exactly who sent it.  One of those friends (my #2) started her own experiment of a similar nature a few years ago.  In it, she decided to focus on the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23.  During her year devoted to self-control, she had a different area of focus each month as a way to curb her natural inclinations and increase her dependence on the Holy Spirit for strength in her daily life.  It was fascinating to hear about her struggles and her triumphs in her quest to become more like Christ.  For those two reasons alone, I just HAD to buy this book.

Right now, I’m in chapter 4—the one where Jen gives up/severely curtails her exposure to media.  That’s something we’ve been discussing at our house for years.  (Note that I said discussing, not necessarily doing.)  As I’ve been reading, I’ve been amazed at how different the two of us are.  We’re both women who love God and want to be more like Him.  We both love our husbands and our families.  We have both been incredibly blessed.  We have so much in common—and yet the things we’re drawn to are often so radically different.  Things she has trouble with I could sail through and things I’m not sure I’d ever even contemplate, she sees as simple.

I love that.  It reminds me again that the God we both serve made us different on purpose.  He made you different on purpose, as well, but He never made any of us in ways that go against His will as defined in Scripture.  We choose to do that on our own.  Psalm 139 declares that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”  I think somewhere deep inside we know that and yet we often forget it.  We also forget that it applies to those around us.  We get this idea that if they’re doing something different from us…then it must be wrong.  After all, it couldn’t possibly be us, right?  That’s where we start judging…and where we get off track.

Reading Jen’s book this morning, made me think about 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV):  “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape that you may be able to bear it.”  It was the “common to man” phrase that struck me.  All of us face temptations.  That’s the common part.  The things that tempt us may be different and our resulting struggles may appear to be more or less socially acceptable depending on what temptation we’re facing, but the struggle to do the right thing is common to all of us who follow Christ.  Let’s not get bogged down in judgment of others because their battle is different from our own.  In other words, let’s not let judgment become one of the main things we have in common.

No matter what battle you’re facing today, remember:  God is faithful!  Take the way of escape provided and be grateful!

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