Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Book Review of Real Love for Real Life

Real Love for Real Life: The Art and Work of Caring by Andi Ashworth in unlike any book I've ever read.  It is a beautifully written book about the giving of care.  One of the first paragraphs contains a good definition of caregiving - going far beyond the idea of caregiving as simply a season of taking care of someone in need.  The author writes:

Caregiving is part of most people's lives on some level.  God appointed us to a caregiving lifestyle when he created us to love and to desire relationship.  When we love others, we want to provide for them, to show our love by caring for them as individuals.  Caregiving touches many aspects of life - everything from the creation of a meal, to how we care for each other in sickness and old age, to the importance we give to celebrations and hospitality, to the way we love as a friend and neighbor.  

As the title suggests, this book explores the art and work of living lives of caring for others - on whatever level and in whatever relationship you find yourself.  The various chapters discuss the beauty, opportunities, fruit, and limits of living a life of caring for others.  It is full of warm and honest accounts of lessons learned by the author, encouraging quotes and thoughts about embracing a lifestyle of care, and practical ideas scattered here and there to help cultivate and carry through this mission to which God has called each of His people.

The author makes a strong argument for embracing a lifestyle of caring.  Not only is it God's desire for each us, but of so much value to those we minister to in this broken world.  By caring for others, we become His hands and feet to those around us - and, in the process, find joy, purpose and encouragement for our own hearts.

When we live in light of the gospel, we view time and people from the perspective of eternity.  Even the small things we do to show people they matter can make a difference.  We make our offerings, not knowing if our efforts will even be noticed, but knowing that each person matters supremely to God, and he notices.  We live by faith, not by sight, entrusting the outcome to God and knowing that we're participating in his work of caring for the people he loves.  That knowledge fills all of our caregiving with eternal significance. -- Andi Ashworth

(P.S. Though there aren't any discussion or reflection questions listed in this resource, I think it would be great for a book study group.  Actually, that's how a friend and I are using it - I was only supposed to read the first three chapters but couldn't help myself and read the whole thing!)

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