About a year and a half ago, Jeff Goins called me. We talked about writing, about being freelancers, about our day jobs with InterVarsity and Adventures in Missions. Since then we’ve kept up the way one can now through social media, occasional comments on one another’s blogs, some retweets, and a bit of witty banter.
With our new book (This Ordinary Adventure) coming out in a few weeks, Chrissy and I have been developing a series of posts on other books y’all would like. When I saw Jeff had a book coming out and saw its title, I knew it would be a good candidate. As it’s launching today, it gets to be the first in the series.
(Jeff’s got some great book launch freebies running for the next day or two, so make sure you click through!)
“This is a book about brave choices, about ordinary people helping beggars and moving to foreign countries. About listening to that still, small voice whispering, ‘Life is not about you.’” So Jeff begins his book, and it’s a very worthwhile read.
Jeff draws upon the wisdom of Mother Teresa, General Patton, Morpheus, Tyler Durden, Yoda, Jason Bourne, Chesterton, William Wallace, Thoreau, C.S. Lewis, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ayn Rand, and Jesus. There’s also a good deal of insight from Jeff’s life lived, his school of hard knocks.
And that’s sort of the point.
We need hard knocks. And a world of hurting people needs us to take them. Jeff casts a very compelling case for us needing to get wrecked, to come to the end of ourselves, to spend ourselves—our lives—on behalf of others. This is life as a Christian—this is life.
“(Kids’) lives are full of reckless abandon, and no one has to tell them so.” I think when Jesus spoke of the need for faith like a child, he was talking less about naïve belief and more about this wholehearted embrace of risk.
Chrissy and I have been talking and thinking for years about life in North America, fearing it (while we were serving in Nicaragua, China, and South Africa) and wrestling with in since we moved back two and a half years ago. Jeff observes correctly, “Something is missing. Something important. Something necessary to making a difference in the world. And most of us are afraid to find out what it is. Because we know. It’s the secret we’re afraid to admit: this will cost us our lives.”
“The process is horrible and ugly and completely gut-wrenching— and at the same time, beautiful. It is real and hard and true. Most of all, it is necessary.”
This resonates with us. This squares with our reflection on the Bible, on our years abroad, of our meager efforts to live for others. As a friend of Jeff’s said, ““When I travel, my problems slide into the context of the rest of the world.” Amen.
“If we are to follow the Jesus who suffered with us and bled for us, we too must suffer. We must hold the dying in our arms. We must shed tears for hungry stomachs, trafficked children, and wandering souls. This is what He wants for us. It’s the reason we are called to lay down our nets and take up our crosses to pursue the Suffering Servant. And it’s the one thing we will avoid at all costs.”
But Jeff and his wife Ashley have stopped avoiding it. They’ve run into it. And their friends have, too. Jeff tells stories of hanging out with people on the streets of Spain and Nashville (which I connected to my similar days in Barcelona and Madison, WI), taking in wounded teens, and touring the country in the real-life grind of a band.
There’s wisdom here, on what you’re living and dying for, when to commit and stay put, when to cut back or move on, and real significance. Wisdom is rare these days. Jeff’s got some that he’s shared well, in a compelling fashion.
Wrecked is perfect for college students and twenty-somethings. This Ordinary Adventure is tilted a smidge older, recent graduates up to our peers in their thirties. I think they actually hang together pretty well as a one-two punch for people starting their first jobs, getting engaged, and trying to start marriage well.
May we each proclaim today, with Jeff, and with people who have lived great lives:
Instead of wanting more, we will strive for less.
Instead of easier, faster, better; we will opt for slow and deliberate.
We will take our time.
We will seek first the needs of others and trust that our own will be provided.
We will discipline ourselves to believe.
We will find our lives by losing it.
We will seek the pearl of great price and sacrifice everything
We will become less to gain more.
We cannot become who we are without going through pain.
Our year in Nicaragua—without electricity, transportation, or water—certainly wrecked me. I was totally insufficient. I was doubled over by giardia and malaria and a broken ankle, and crushing poverty. But God graciously worked on me there (and since) and even used our efforts to work real good there.
What has wrecked you?