I recently shared a photo journal on how I spend alone time with God — in what I call “whitespace”. These are the outdoor places I go to air my thoughts, pray and rest. Things were different for me growing up as a kid. I didn’t get the chance to explore nature that much, except for an occasional group hike with the church’s youth group.
Whitespace back then took place in a different locale.
I found soul rest in books.
I loved reading — engaging in unspoken conversation with authors I had never met in person, but found to be good companions between pages.
Whenever I felt stuck spiritually, I would hit the bookstore. Just like I’d scan a room at a social gathering for a friendly face, I’d browse the shelves for a title that read like an invitation.
Just like meeting new friends don’t always work out, books were hit and miss. But I always went back for more, no matter how many times I’d strike out. Because inevitably, something life changing always happens.
A book would speak to me.
Every time it happened, I’d be thankful God brought me such faithful friends as books. I would find the exact comfort, encouragement or inspiration that I needed to get through a particular season. I could laugh, cry, or dream of new possibilities with a good book.
In celebration of some of the key books God has used to trigger change in my life, I’d like to share a faith “book journal”. Here is a partial list of books that have refreshed and deepened my faith — along with a quote and reflection on it’s impact on my journey.
“Because our secular milieu offers us so few spiritual disciplines, we have to develop our own. We have to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw everyday, shake off our compulsions and dwell in the gentle healing presence of our Lord. Without such a desert will lose our own soul while preaching the gospel to others.”
I was burnt out doing ministry and dealing with disappointment and stress. I lost the joy of enjoying God’s presence. This is the book that helped me find my way back to soul rest. I read it, finding myself thirsty for a deeper experience of God. Not just in my head, but in my heart.
“We sometimes think, however, that we can supply all of our needs without other people. We think that, in a state of emotional and spiritual isolation, we can still grow. This grave violation of the basic nature of theuniverse can cause serious problems.”
I was able to look back into my past without fear it would overwhelm me. Instead, I was able to find healing , which in turn put me in a position to connect with others and also draw healthy boundaries.
“Is finding God’s will a Biblical idea? … Because God is far beyond what our finite minds can comprehend, we do not know everything about Him nor are we able to always discern His plan. Yet our faith should continue in Him…Rather than looking for some sort of wrapped spiritual package from the Almighty, I want to rely upon my closeness to Him.”
I was struggling with the lack direction from God, even though I had been praying for years, bumping into detours and dead ends. This book brought a Biblical and practical perspective on what it means to know God’s will in my life.
“How do you embrace someone if your arms are full of bags? For the sake of those you love, learn to set them down. He wants to use you, you know. But how can he, if you are exhausted?”
Everyone has a Max Lucado book that brings God closer than before. This was mine. It gave me a picture of what I wanted to be a growing reality in my life. Max makes it fun reading about it.
“You may wonder how some people can percolate with enthusiasm over the same passages you’ve read time and again — unmoved. What’s their secret? .. [It's] not secret at all. It is simply a case of practicing effective Bible study methods.”
I had enjoyed reading so many books from childhood, garnering the gems others found in God’s word. This was the book that gave me the shovel to dig them on my own. Since learning how to study the Bible inductively, my passion for hearing God speak continues to bring me joy.
“God has a plan for you, and that plan includes emotional health, fulfilling relationships and freedom from the tyranny of overwhelming emotions.”
This was a book I avoided reading because it sounded too “practical”. How can a single paper back book help deal with such a wide variety of emotions as depression, worry, anxiety and perfectionism? I picked it up out of curiosity and learned how to change the way I feel by telling myself the truth.
“If you’re in the midst of a Plan B situation or if you’re still reeling from one… you’re left with a choice. The choice of faith. God can take the hurt you’ve experienced… and mold your heart to reflect his heart. The question is, do you think you can sacrifice who you are today for who you could become?
I didn’t have this book when I went ran into my Plan B, but reading it gave me a confident conclusion and God perspective that freed me from the fear of encountering my next one (because they will come). I recommend this honest exploration through real stories and inspiring walk through the Scriptures.
I continue to be amazed how God breathes and speaks to me through strangers I’ve never met. Actually, we have. In many ways, it’s a lot more closer than seeing them with skin on. That’s because we connect where our guard is down and we are listening.
What is a book that God has used to bring comfort or change in your life?
By Bonnie Gray, The Faith Barista serving up shots of faith for everyday life.
Affiliate links are used in this post. All proceeds go directly to Bloom (in)courage, to help fund the free books provided for future book studies.
Photo Copyright FreeStockImages.org.