If you only want to read one book this year I would recommend the book "Restless" by Jennie Allen. In Restless Jennie Allen helps the reader see how each one of us have a unique set of gifts, passions, places, relationships and past experiences that are all part of our purpose in life. If you want to figure out what God's plan is for your life and what specific gift you have that you can give back to the world this book will help you find it.
Today I wanted to share three quotes from Jennie's book Restless that points out why it's important for us to start thinking about what God's plan is for our lives. None of us knows how many days we have left to live, so figuring out the purpose for our lives isn't something that can wait. Jennie Allen has a friend named Julie who has died twice, she knows exactly how precious life is. At the beginning of Chapter 15 (pages 130-131) in the book Restless Jennie Allen writes:
"I want to tell you more about my good friend who has died twice. Julie Manning was resuscitated both times, but due to a heart condition, could die again at any point. She doesn't live like anyone else I know. She doesn't waste time with small talk. No one wastes time with Julie, because when you're eating Mexican food on her deck, life feels short.
Julie is thirty-five and has two young boys who know how to dial 911. But Julie is not afraid. She teaches us to not fear death. People who have died get to tell us to be afraid or not.
The day we thought Sarah Henry would go to Jesus, Julie sat beside her bed whispering secrets of hope and life after death. She whispered her memories.
"Sarah, there is complete light and complete peace. You will not worry about your children. You will not fear anything. You will just feel completely overwhelmed by the presence of God. Do not be afraid, friend."
We are often afraid of what we don't know or understand. We don't know what will happen after we die so most of us are afraid of dying. Julie isn't afraid, because she has already experienced it twice. Julie also has something most of us lack; she knows what matters most in life. Julie knows that she will meet God when this life is over, so she lives life to the fullest, determined to not waste any time but to love God and love people every minute of her life. Most of us don't think about what will matter after we die, so we live in the moment and we focus much of our energy on things that won't matter in the end. Jennie Allen describes in Restless how Julie's experiences have affected her own approach to life, on page 131 she writes:
"As my dear friend lay likely facing God that day, no words could ever have comforted me more. Heaven and God aren't myths to Julie; she has tasted them. So every moment we are together we make the very most of it.
Every one of us have people in our lives whom we need and people who need us. Are we intentionally spending our time in those two categories? Or are we casually bumping up against each other with no real purpose to receive or give love?
If we are honest, it is costly to love people. So you know what we do instead of doing the difficult work of loving them? We piddle. We waste the precious time we have."
When it comes down to it, it will always be easier to do the wrong thing in life. It will always be easier to see someone in need and choose to look the other way. It will always be easier to stop visiting that person in your family who is really hard to love. It will always be easier to push down that voice in your heart that says: "You need to do more to help others in the world". Love is always going to be costly. Jennie Allen mentions the cost of deep relationships in Restless on page 131 where she writes:
"It is easier to survive this life on the surface, brushing up against people gently, rather than doing the mess of intentionally loving them. Love takes risk. Love takes forgiveness and grace. Love takes effort, time, and commitment. You commit not to bolt when it gets hard, because it will get hard.
And if this is the cost of deep relationship, we just don't have capacity and space to go deep with everyone. So we have to become intentional."