Thursday, June 19, 2008

Book Review , Messy Spirituality by Michael Yaconelli

This is a tiny little book that I picked up because it was mentioned I think in Generous Orthodoxy. The title grabbed my attention right away, and it did not disappoint. The author Michael Yaconelli, was tragically killed in a car accident in 2003 and the foreword written by his wife in the beginning is enough to pull you in. I will share some of my favorite quotes and you can decide what you think.

"What landed Jesus on the cross was the preposterous idea that common, ordinary, broken, screwed-up people could be godly! What drove Jesus' enemies crazy were his criticisms of the "perfect" religious people and his acceptance of the imperfect nonreligious people. The shocking implication of Jesus' ministry is that anyone can be spiritual."

"Messy spirituality describes our godly incompetence. No one does holy living very well. Spirituality is the humiliating recognition that I don't know how to pray well. I don't understand God's word or know how to navigate it properly, and I don't know how to competently live out my commitment to Christ. Messy spirituality affirms our spiritual clumsiness."

Toward the end of the book in a chapter entitled Little Graces he shares one of the coolest war stories I have ever heard. I literally had to call Moses mid-day to share this one. After I wiped away the tears, I was so excited like it happened just moments ago.
It was about 2 British air pilots that in World War II were conducting bombing raids over Berlin. One night after a successful bombing raid, as they were headed for the safety of England, the bombers were attacked by a large group of German fighter planes. They saw tracers from these planes come at them in slow motion and watched hopelessly as they hit the back of their plane right in the gas tank. They prepared for an explosion after the thud sound of five bullets hit hard but nothing happened. Back at the base safe in the barracks the mechanic came in with bullets in hand and said they were all empty of gun powder. Inside one was a tiny wad of paper with a note that read, " We are Polish POW's - forced to make bullets in factory. When guards do not look, we do not fill with powder. Is not much, but is best we can do. Please tell family we are alive." The note was signed by four Polish prisoners of war. He goes on to say , "The power of goodness is found in the tiny. Since the beginning. God has chosen tiny over large: David over Goliath, Gideon and his three hundred soldiers over thousands of Midianites, Elijah over the prophets of Baal, one sheep over ninety-nine. Spirituality is about doing the tiny work of God, little acts, small responses to God's presence in our lives."
*Or how about coming as a helpless tiny infant to save the whole world.
**And I would add to that doing those tiny acts on a very daily basis. It is looking, listening, waiting , for an opportunity to make someones life better just because.

It was a great book. Michael sounded like a really cool guy and he captures in this book what I think alot of us need to hear. We are all in process, screwed up, and loved beyond measure at the same time. What a life we live with this thing called Spirituality.


Jen in Budapest said...

Noel, that's powerful to me...the Polish POW's. Tonight I spent time in 5 musuems and the first was the House of Terror. There was footage of the Czech and Hungarian resistance and it was moving. Thanks for sharing this story. Wow. Definitely about the little things...

Jen in Budapest said...

Hey sis....I tried Bikram Yoga. I'm officially hooked. Awesome!

noel said...

i know , i was on your blog. i am oh so happy you likee, we will be doing this when you come home. good stuff.

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