At times, I need to refrain as the book is borrowed and I doubt that its owner would be happy to have my sometimes crazed markings in their book.
Whatever book I am reading at any given time can be found close at hand. On my errands and travels I take it with me, as I never know when I might have a few minutes to fill. It is always a pleasure to be able to get a little reading in here and there.
Sometimes Papa has other plans with those free bits of time, so I try to be aware of His promptings. Even so, many opportunities do present themselves and I like to be ready with a book nearby!
Today I had a hair appointment. It was time to cover up all that salt and pepper! I nary had a gray or silver strand until this past year, but the stuff is making up for lost time these days!
This meant that I was going to be sitting with gook on my hair for a while and I was hoping to be able to use the time to read. It all depended upon whether my hairstylist was in the mood to talk or not.
Her shop is a one person salon, so there would be no one else with whom to hold a conversation.
It turns out that she had a book that she was eager to pick up too.
So there we sat stylist and client with our noses in our books. Good thing we could rely on a timer to tell us when it was time to rinse the dye out otherwise me might still be sitting there with our open books!
What book is holding my interest so greatly at the moment? Brennan Manning's "The Signature of Jesus."
His focus is on what a life will look like that has the signature of Jesus on it and what value is found in such a life.
I have been very busy with my marker! Two chapters so enthralled me that I finally gave up marking the individual paragraphs and highlighted the chapter titles.
The first chapter title is, Fools for Christ.
It speaks of being willing to be set apart and the importance of finding community with other fools.
To be set apart means that we are willing to embrace the whole of the life that true disciples are to live. To quote Brennan,
"True disciples see Christianity as a way of life on and off the camera."How easy it is to hold back, modifying our behavior or words according to the expectations or beliefs of those around us. Jesus did not do that and He has called us to follow Him.
For years there was a word that I disliked greatly. The word was vulnerability. Life had taught me that to be vulnerable was to open yourself up to be hurt. And getting hurt was a guarantee.
As I grew in my love and knowledge of my God I became more secure and thus more willing to take risks.
This happened in community.
We need one another to encourage and challenge us. Another quote from Brennan,who quoted Scott Peck,
"There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; there can be no peace-and ultimately no life-without community."We learn to trust in community and thus become willing to be vulnerable.
How could we touch another life without being vulnerable?
How can I expect another to be open with me if I will not do the same with them?
I have a motto these days.
"I will share anything with everyone, but not everything with everyone."
There is no part of my past or present that I will not share if I am prompted to do so by Papa.
That was not always so.
I was afraid of being exposed. I was afraid that, once 'found out', I would be rejected.
Papa has given me peace. As I realized that He was really for me, it mattered less whether anyone else was against me or not.
That is the kind of peace He gives, which is so very freeing!
The second chapter title is, Discipleship Today.
Brennan examines the difference between religion and relationship; doing and being. He doesn't disregard all religion, but wants it held in proper perspective. He says,
"We need reminders, symbols, stories, exhortations, living models, time-outs for reflection and celebration. These things are indispensable supports. The error is to think these things are the Christian life."
"The heart of discipleship lies in commitment and worship, not reflection and theory."I find it very interesting that this particular book came to me at just this time, as I have been going through fits and starts regarding the place of religion in my life. Papa has been showing me that the more I enjoy His Presence, the more aware that I am of His very Presence, the more all of my concerns will fall away and He will lead me through the labyrinth that man has laid out and called religion.
Just one more quote from Brennan,
"Herein lies the secret, I believe, of the inner life of Jesus. Christ's communion with Abba in the inner sanctuary of His soul transformed His vision of reality, enabling Him to perceive God's love and care behind the complexities of life. Practicing the Presence helps us to discern the providence of God at work especially in those dark hours when the signature of Jesus is being trace in our flesh."Ah, I could quote the whole book, but instead will encourage you to read it for yourself.
However, before you even consider doing so I would urge you to do what Brennan does in His book.
Offer yourself to the indwelling God!