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Monday, June 16, 2008
Looking for God -- Part Two
by Nancy Ortberg

One of the best parts about Nancy's book for me has been her simple style of clearing out clutter -- spiritually speaking. For example, she tells the story of a woman named Babs, who gave a kidney to a friend of a friend who happened to desperately need one. A friend of a friend. Not her mother, child or sister. Not her best friend or even her favorite childhood babysitter. A friend of a friend needed a kidney and Babs said, Yes. Nancy writes, "Love is such a difficult word to define. Except when a kidney is involved." ( 127)

Another place where Looking for God calls us to act, instead of talk about beliefs and consider potential actions is in her story about when Shane Claiborne visited her church and asked everyone to give up their shoes so he could distribute them to homeless people that evening. Her co-worker clarified the invitation: "Shane is not telling you to go home and then next week bring back a pair of shoes to donate; he is saying right now." (79)

These two illustrations got me thinking: What if we were as impulsive about simple, bold acts of kindness as we are about impulse purchases of snacks and caffeinated drinks? Or what would happen if we impulsively gave away something of value to us every time we impulsively act NOT in accord with our values -- like when we snap at someone we love or let our vision of abundant life get sucked up in the vacuum of surviving day-to-day to-dos?

I appreciated Nancy's chapter on CouldaWouldaShoulda, in which she tells a heartbreaking story about a woman with little money, two kids facing terminal illness and a husband who just left and what Nancy almost did to organize assistance and blessing for this family. A spirit-fire brainstorm of inspiration didn't become incarnation, because the list with all the ideas kept getting shuffled and covered with other papers and priorities until it got thrown out and the vision lost. I could so identify! I have so many wishes to be a conduit of grace and so often inspiration turns into procrastination that trails off into...nothing but lost good intentions that breed a feeling of guilt and paralysis. I wonder, is our habit of forgetting to act while our intention is fresh off the press a piece of what feeds our cynicism, our gnawing suspicion that we can't make an important difference in other's lives or the world?

1. What keeps you from acting on your best intentions?

2. What kind act will you undertake right now?

3. What sacrifice will you make this week for someone who isn't personally important in your life?

4. What habit would most help you create a life open to inspiration and grounded in follow-through actions? (A will-do list for the day that ONLY includes important, rather than urgent goals? A question for the day? A walk past the homeless shelter?...)

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posted by Jemila Kwon at 3:51 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 6/17/2008 09:23:00 AM, Blogger Bitty

    Another GREAT complimentary resource for shedding guilt and taking action is "Hope Lives: A Journey of Restoration," a great devotional/autobiography/small group workbook by Compassion International's Amber van Schooneveld. Here's the link: http://store.grouppublishing.com/OA_HTML/ibeCCtpItmDspRte.jsp?item=1564190§ion=16524

  • At 6/17/2008 10:34:00 PM, Blogger Literacygirl

    I only thought the book was okay. As a huge devotee of John Ortberg, it didn't match my expectations. It seemed to ramble a bit. Although my favorite part of the book is when she pulls over to the side of the road and exclaims, "Jesus NEVER journaled!." There are so many of my contemporaries who feel that there is something wrong with them if they don't journal, or faithbook/scrapbook, etc.

  • At 6/18/2008 01:36:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Kwon

    literacygirl, what would you have liked to seen that would have taken the book to the next level?

    I completely agreed that of course there is nothing wrong with you if you don't journal/blog/scrapbook, whatever. I suppose I have been sufficiently removed from hyper-evangelicalism for long enough that I actually was taken aback that there was such an assumption in the first place!

    I also found the book rambling, but I guess I didn't mind.

    I liked the way she spoke from her authentic experience. I would describe the book as earth shattering in its ideas, but full of God in its little bits of life opening up on pages.

    I liked where she talked about building a center/core in that alone place that isn't alone that is made up entirely of God. That resonates with where I am growing.

  • At 6/18/2008 01:37:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Kwon

    I meant to write "not earth shattering in its ideas" :)


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