Book Review, Part Two

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A while back I mentioned that I'd recently read three books that subsequently rocked my world. The first book I shared last month started me on this journey of questioning how my life was making a difference anywhere outside of my own family. My heart has been stirred over how I'm called to serve the rest of the world. These thoughts came out of nowhere. But I know it's no coincidence that these books have found their way to my nightstand. I'm still not sure where this is all leading but this next book sure gave me a lot to chew on.

Most of you are probably familiar with Rick Warren, author of the The Purpose Driven Life. But, like me, you might not be aware of the lovely woman he's married to. Kay Warren has rarely been in the limelight over the years but, if more people read her book, it won't be long before she's more recognizable than him.

Dangerous Surrender: What Happens When You Say Yes to God is a book that will leave you, as Kay puts it, "seriously disturbed" and "gloriously ruined." It all began with an magazine article about the world AIDS crisis that disturbed Kay to transform from "housewife to humanitarian" in the blink of an eye. She was so bothered by what she read that, next thing she knew, she was on a plane to Africa to see for herself the reality of this tragedy. The manner in which Kay writes makes you feel like you're sharing a cup of coffee at her kitchen table. She's real, honest, challenging, humorous and vulnerable. Yet she's not suggesting anyone do something she hasn't already tackled.

An excerpt from the first chapter:

The word disturbed is often associated with mental illness and instability. We say, "He's disturbed," when we describe someone who reacts in an overly emotional way or appears troubled emotionally. I want to redefine this word, because I believe that God is looking for some disturbed people. He is searching for men and women, students, and young adults who will allow him to disturb them by making them truly see the world in which we live— so disturbed that they will be compelled to do something about what they see. Most of us have grown up in a culture that promotes precisely the opposite approach. Parents tell their children, "Never talk about politics or religion; it makes people uncomfortable." And for the most part, we've obeyed this cultural edict. Instead of tackling uncomfortable topics, we talk about the latest TV reality show or the hot sports figure or the price of gasoline. Believers are just as guilty as nonbelievers! Even worse, we refuse to talk about the painful, disturbing subjects — child prostitution, child labor, rape, poverty, injustice, ethnic hatred, greed, materialism, environmental destruction, HIV/AIDS. These are disturbing topics. But if we're not disturbed by the world in which we live, we will be consumed with the trivial, the insignificant, and the temporary. We will spend our days pursuing all the wrong goals, living by the wrong measurement of success, evaluating our legacy by the wrong standard.
Jesus' words "Much is required from those to whom much is given" (Luke 12:48 NLT) began to reverberate inside my mind, taking their place alongside the disturbing images I had seen. I had been given so much—what was my responsibility in return? God clearly tells us that we are "to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with [our] God" (Micah 6:8). I began to wonder how to apply this truth to my life. How does becoming a seriously disturbed person affect the way I live?

At the end of each chapter, Mrs. Warren poses a question for the reader, another question to share with your reading partner and a website address to watch a podcast pertaining to the discussion. Each chapter is even more heart wrenching than the previous. She makes you want to DO something. Anything.

The pages are filled with anecdotes from her personal journey including two bouts with cancer, literally witnessing child prostitution take place and a woman dying of AIDS while laying on a piece of plastic. In spite of all the setbacks and real-life horror she experiences, she never loses her passion for the calling God has engraved on her heart.

An excerpt from the end:

"SOMEONE ONCE ASKED ME TO DEFINE CHRIS-TIAN-ITY IN ONE word, and after some reflection, I responded, "It all boils down to surrender." Everything I know about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ begins and ends with sur-render -- with saying yes to God. That tiny, simple word initiates an exhilarating, life-altering adventure that will take you places you never thought you'd go-- both literally and figuratively. "