Two books (beside the Bible) have had enormous influence on my spiritual life.
One is an unlikely source, about a ministry to gang homies, that is laced with profanity—Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle. G (as he’s called) interacts with Scrappy, who begins to see the worthlessness of his life. Scrappy says, “I have spent the last twenty years building a reputation for myself . . . and now . . . I regret . . . that I even have one.”
Father G comments, “Scrappy discovered, as Scripture has it, ‘that where he is standing is holy ground.’ He found the narrow gate that leads to life. God’s voice was not of restriction, to ‘shape up or ship out.’ Scrappy found himself in the center of vastness and right in the expansive heart of God. The sacred place toward which God had nudged Scrappy all his life is not to be arrived at, but discovered. Scrappy did not knock on the door so God would notice him. No need for doors at all. Scrappy was already inside.”
The other book, As Kingfishers Catch Fire, is a collection of Eugene Peterson sermons. Speaking on Philippians 4:13, he says, “There are a great many things we can do little or nothing about. The weather, other people’s emotions, the economy—all are out of our hands. . . . But one enormous difference is in our hands: We can offer up the center of our lives to the great revealed action of God’s love for us. . . . We can cultivate the vitality and centering of life that develops out of risking our lives in a relationship with God. When we do that, we find Paul’s statement neither extravagant nor fanciful: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’” (Peterson quotation edited)
Two totally different pastors, both saying the same thing.
Eleanor Gustafson is a minister’s wife, teacher, musician, writer, and encourager. Her passion is God, and then loving people and writing. Her short stories and articles have appeared in national and local magazines. Her pallet of experiences helps bring color and humor to her fiction. In many of her stories, Ellie explores the cosmic struggle between good and evil in light of God’s overarching work of redemption. Her books include Dynamo, a story about a man, his horse, his faith, and his God, and An Unpresentable Glory about a mysterious man, sick and begging for secrecy, and the woman who ignores all alarm bells to care for him. Ellie has three children and eight grandchildren. Visit her at http://www.eleanorgustafson.com