You may have noticed that, although I read through all of the NIV Application Commentary Series on 2 Corinthians, I did not post regular entries about what I had read. I am trying to let go of posting daily reactions to what I read. I am trying to be a little more private and introspective. I think it is my calling for this season to simplify – to stop reaching out to more and more people and to reach out with increased focus to God. To Rest in Him. To stop and smell the flowers. To look at the scenery.
Now that I have finished 2 Corinthians, I have ordered the Galatians commentary by Scot McKnight. The waiting formed a window where I could sit down with my wife. We have literally done that on the back patio a number of times this week. However, I have also sat down with her a number of times in a less literal sense as I have been reading an advanced copy of her book. I have sensed in the thoughtful words on the pages a connection with my life’s companion . In a sense I feel the book itself is a companion available to a broader audience. It is a Bible companion, almost a commentary similar to Tom (N.T.) Wright’s Bible For Everyone series. The first chapter gives the sense of a transparent and authentic person sitting down beside you and discussing the life of Mary. Because the book is more intimate and personal, it requires action on the part of the reader, too. Kelli requests that the reader sit down with a journal and a Bible. I thought this might be awkward, but it is not formal like a Kay Arthur or Beth Moore study – it is refreshingly different. As I read it, it was less of the study and more of the companionship. It was a quiet conversation. In a word, Kelli’s book was ‘relational.’ Pierced and Embraced actually connects the reader with Mary and other New Testament characters rather than writing about them like a sterile book report or an academic exercise.
So, in the quietness of my retreat from the world and my increased satisfaction with all that God bestows on me each day, I felt like my wife was sat with me in my devotions even though she was typing in another room. My heart was touched by the artistry of the turn of phrase, the piercing power of truthful insight, and the humility of a heart which is searching deeply and going deeper.
Here is an excerpt of what I read this morning which questions the common understanding of a calling which is measured by ease and comfort:
Sometimes our calling causes us to cower under the covers. Sometimes we respond with uncertainty and fear when we hear him speak our name. Sometimes we respond with dread. Because sometimes God causes us to do crazy things. Sometimes He calls us to build that great big boat when there is no sign of rain. Sometimes he wants us to go to Nineveh and risk our very lives to share His good news. Sometimes He calls us to care for people who seem downright impossible to love. Sometimes those unlovables live in a distant land across the sea. Sometimes they reside right under our own roof. So we love, not because we feel compelled. Not because the prospect propels us out of bed at the first light of day. We love simply because he commands us to and because He loved us first. (Taken from Called to Obey: Mary, Mother of Jesus in the book Pierced and Embraced)
I would recommend that both men and women read this book in a quiet place and contemplate the Bible readings with Kelli. I would then recommend they write down some thoughts and share them with a friend, or group of friends, over a coffee. I believe the book will pierce and embrace your own soul, as Mary’s was pierced and embraced. I believe the subsequent conversations will form deeper connections with others. Most importantly, though, I am grateful for a wife who is an eloquent artist leading people deeper with The Father, through the ministry of The Son, in the winsome power of The Holy Spirit.