I was recently asked for a couple of book recommendations and after the Bible, The 4:8 Principle and Searching for and Maintaining Peace, I mentioned Called to Life. I had forgotten how much I gleaned from this book until it came to my mind the other day. So, Called to Life is the next book I want to share with you in Book Club Time. Direct quotes are in bold and my notes follow.
Book Club Time: Called to Life
God is the God of the living, not the dead. He reaches out to us continually, mysteriously but certainly, infusing our lives with value, beauty and fruitfulness beyond our imagining. I just posted the other day in Bible Quotes: The Armor of Light, that “…your worth is based more on Who He is, than who you are.” So this idea that God is the one continually reaching toward us–ready to infuse us beyond our imagination is incredibly comforting.
I shall insist that any call from God is a call to life. Our first vocation is to live, and a call cannot be from God unless it leads us to live in a more intense and beautiful way, engaging human life as it is with more confidence, in all its aspects: physical, psychological, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. A couple of years ago when I started blogging publicly, I used part of that quote as the tag line. At the time I was struggling with my mind and to repeat to myself, that my first vocation was to live was powerful. To meditate on the fact that not did God know where I was physically, mentally and emotionally–He was calling me to this place to live with more confidence in Him.
Often though, the calls we receive from God bear upon smaller, everyday things: an invitation to pardon, an act of confidence in a difficult situation, a service to render to someone, a moment of prayer…I think, and maybe it’s just me, but I think sometimes it’s easier to perform a harder work of charity for a neighbor than the simpler act of just being kind in our own home. Notice I said simpler, not easier. I wrote about this in, Who is My Neighbor?
Every “yes” to God’s call, even in the least matter, brings an increase of life and strength and encouragement, for God gives Himself to those who are open to His calls and confers even more freedom upon them. It’s difficult to realize, but sometimes when we refuse to do something, we are refusing God. And this “something” can be the very least of things: refusing to sit down with a toddler to read that picture book when we’d rather check Facebook, refusing our husband late at night because…well it’s late at night-we’re tired-overtouched-really tired.
Openness to God’s calls frees us from pride…Openness to God’s calls helps us to escape the pitfalls of desire…And this openness frees us from fear. By being open to God’s calls, the believer receives encouragement and strength that empowers him to rise above his fears and break out of the narrow circle of inadequate coping strategies by which people too often attempt to handle with fear. The line or phrase that struck me here–“the believer” I used to call myself a “worrier.” I would much rather refer to myself as a “believer” even if at first it’s only to try to convince myself. And “inadequate coping strategies”–lived lots and lots of them, how about you?
Sometimes one is called to take just a single little step–“Nothing except for today,” as St. Therese of Lisieux said. But it is enough to live and advance a day at a time, finding meaning in existence and persevering until one receives the grace to see more. I know there were days when I thought “always,” I am always going to feel like this–or I am always not going to feel anything. Always is a trap–good or bad. We always think we are going to have the same fervent love for our quiet time with God, and we may start to take it for granted and then the habit of “always” slowly slips away.
The most fundamental call addressed to us is the call to live.
That is one of my all time favorite quotes, not just from the book but period.
“Live! I want you to live! (Ezekiel 16:6) Here is the first and most fundamental call to us from God. When life seems too hard to bear we must hold tight to this word, will to respond to the call, choose to live and welcome life as it is, with all its burdens and sorrows. In the end, this confident acceptance will bring us to see life as an immense gift.
Life is beautiful and full of meaning in its absurdity if you know how to take it as a whole. So key in those hard days to realize that a day not does not make a life.
Let us love and accept our lives–not imaginary lives–but the ones God offers us day by day, uncovering hidden riches for us as He does. I think so often we get stuck emotionally, mentally, spiritually, because we fight too hard against God. We don’t love and accept–we fight. And in that battle, we lose our peace and our ability to uncover the hidden riches of this life.
That’s only my notes from half the book. So I’ll finish the other half in another post.
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