I like to read.
I love the sensation of being carried away to a different time and place, totally possessed by the unfolding drama. I’m getting fussier though, and it’s a rare book that can capture me these days. But when it does, everything else is dead to me: sleep, food, conversation, small children all fade into the background and I live with my protaganists. So I’m a fiction fiend and it’s a rare non-fiction that can tempt me away from the world of story. Rarer to the point of endangered are the number of christian books I am willing to pick up. I generally don’t get past the first chapter before I put them in the charity shop box and I think I’ve finished maybe 2 in the past 5 years (and they were so far left they probably don’t even count).
Well, you know where this is going, I’m reading a christian book and I’m about to recommend it. Sort of. Truth be told this book should come with a health warning. Not because it’s american (although filters should be applied), but because it is pretty uncomfortable stuff. We’re familiar with the you’re-a-crap-christian-and-you-don’t-love-jesus-enough genre – this is not that. It’s a journal of one woman’s experiment/spiritual journey into reducing excess in 7 areas of her life: food, clothes, spending, media, possessions, waste and stress. It’s a journey away from materialism towards simplicity and generosity and I am finding it deeply provocative, uncomfortable and compelling.
There have been quite a few of these kinds of book about of late; people chronicalling radical changes they have made to their lives. ‘100 mile diet’, ‘Animal Vegetable Miracle’, ‘My year of living biblically’ – even ‘Round Ireland with a Fridge’ for flips sake. So it’s not a novel idea, but here’s what grabbed me about this book,
‘I approach this project in the spirit of a fast: an intentional reduction, a deliberate abstinence to summon God’s movement in my life. A fast creates margin for God to move. Temporarily changing our routine of comfort jars us off high centre. A fast is not necessarily something we offer God, but it assists us in offering ourselves’
I’ve never really done fasting but this book has challenged me and inspired me in equal measure and I think I’d like to do something about that. So, from the 10th February I’m going to try a 7 week version of of what the author calls ‘an experimental mutiny against excess’. She took a month for each of the areas she radically reduced, but I’m not that brave. It was the lovely Mrs Martin (she of the xmas tree recommendations) who told me about the book and we are hoping that our home group will also attempt some of this at the same time. It’ll be a Lent version of the advent shenanigans except with less tinsel and more whining from the children. I’m going to blog each week, both to keep me motivated and also as a record. Because I expect that this will be hard, yes, and painful, yes, but also that God will turn up, that He will move into the space we create.
We get bewitched by all our stuff. Like Edmund with his turkish delight in ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’, we get consumed by our need for more until we lose our very selves. I recognise that in me, how subtle the spell is and how easily I fall under it. I’d like to take these 7 weeks to step out from under it and see what God might do.
The book is ‘7’, by Jen Hatmaker. Buy it, read it and then come join me (if you think you’re hard enough).