Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Book Review of The Rest of God

But when I say Sabbath, I also mean an attitude.  It is a perspective, an orientation.  I mean a Sabbath heart, not just a Sabbath day.  A Sabbath heart is restful even in the midst of unrest and upheaval.  It is attentive to the presence of God and others even in the welter of much coming and going, rising and falling.  It is still and knows God even when mountains fall into the sea.

The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath by Mark Buchanan is a gem and has quickly made its way to the top five books of the year on my reading list.   It's simply a joy to read.  In fact, I found myself several times letting out long sighs of satisfaction and contentment.  The Lord placed this book in my hands at just the right time.  Some of the very things that He's been teaching me lately about cultivating a quiet in my soul were confirmed in this book.

As the intro quote implies, The Rest of God is about far more than keeping Sabbath one day a week.  It's about cultivating a lifestyle of rest and trust in God in every bit of our beings.  Nothing in it is earth-shattering - it's really reminders of what we already know if we stop long enough to remember.  Here are just a few quotes to whet your whistle:

* The Chinese join two characters to form a single pictograph for busyness: heart and killing.  That is stunningly incisive.  The heart is the place the busy life exacts its steepest toll.

* You cannot practice thankfulness on a biblical scale without its altering the way you see.  And the more you do it, the more you find cause for doing it.  Inherent in a life of thanksgiving is an ongoing discovery of God's sufficiency, his generosity, his fatherly affection and warrior protection.

* If God works all things together for good for those who love him and are called to his purposes, you can relax.  If he doesn't, start worrying.  If God can take any mess, any mishap, any wastage, any wreckage, any anything, and choreograph beauty and meaning from it, then you can take a day off.  If he can't, get busy.  Either God's always at work, watching the city, building the house, or it all depends on you.

* To live on purpose means to go and do likewise.  Purposefulness requires paying attention, and paying attention means - almost by definition - that we make room for surprise.  We become hospitable to interruption.  I doubt we can notice for long without this hospitality.  And to sustain it we need theological touchstones for it - a conviction in our bones that God is Lord of our days and years, and that his purposes and his presence often come disguised as detours, messes, defeats.

* For only those who number their days aright gain wise hearts.  Only they become God's sages: those calm, unhurried people who live in each moment fully, savoring simple things, celebrating small epiphanies, unafraid of life's inevitable surprises and reverses, adaptive to change yet not chasing after it.  

There aren't many books that are given a permanent place on my bookshelf and that will get read again and again.  But The Rest of God is one of them.  Read and be. restored.

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