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."
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?...)
Labels: Book Discussions, Looking for God