Part of my 2017 goals is reading an average of one book each month. Selfishly proud that I finished the first in 16 days! It also helps when authors make reading their books easy. I started 2017 off with Jen Hatmaker’s For The Love. This is the first actual book of Jen’s I have read. I love her random notes(and thank you’s), hilarious stories, and clear biblical truths in modern and obvious language.
This book is a collection of thoughts and wisdom. She explains that anything of value she has to say comes down to purpose. “For the Love” is why we exist. Loving Jesus, our own souls, family and neighbors- it’s all about love. One of the first things I loved was her explain of her mission in life: to “help to lead a tribe that does more healing and less hurting.” How timely considering the state of our country right now. She urges us to love our neighbors in a society that wants us to hate them and for them to fear us in return. It was a powerful reminder that genuine Christlike love casts out fear. And without fear, hatred starves.
The importance of presence in ministry and life screamed out story after story as I furiously highlighted points like “We can’t deliver folks from their pits, but we can sure get in there with them until God does.” Jen encourages us to be a friend in difficult situations and not be afraid of the mess that comes along with people. It takes courage to be a good friend. That sounds ridiculous, right? Being a real friend means putting our own fear aside and not abandoning others in their seasons of doubt and despair. She reminds us that the “heroes” of the Bible and the early church were a hot mess and a disaster; so, why are we surprised when we too fall short? She also has a serious wake up call in her section dealing with difficult people and the idea of being compassionate without enabling them in their misconduct of others.
Throughout the book, there were messages to and about the church, especially the inconsistent nature of the western church’s big theology in comparison to the rest of the world. “Theology is true everywhere- or it isn’t true anywhere.” If we claim something about God in America, that same claim must be consistent to our Christian brothers and sisters in Africa, Asia and beyond. If it isn’t, the origin is likely man and not God.
What caught me the most was when she wrote of her experience as a woman in ministry and the stories of the other women she’s encountered. As a woman called to ministry, there’s a kindred spirit of understanding her trials. I don’t think it was meant to be a tearjerker, but there were definite moments in her words. She reminded readers, myself included, that we have so much to offer the Church as a whole. We are smart, capable, strong, and wise. We are also people who were created in God’s image. We are also people who He has empowered with His gifts to serve others. He has plans and purposes for us and work for which we have each been anointed. That looks different for each of us, but it is absent for none of us. There is work for us to do, and we need not wait for permission to live out what we’re called to do. We simply need to get started. Edit: I forced one of my friends to listen to me as I read THIS ENTIRE CHAPTER of the book to her at 1AM. That’s how serious I am about this.
There were way too many excellent points to contain in one post. Don’t take my word for it. Read it!