A few weeks ago, when we were in the middle of kitchen renovations, our contractor came in and handed me a packager he’d found on the front porch. We chatted about the things of the day – cabinets, drawer pulls, whatever – as I opened the package and mumbled something about not being sure what was inside. “I review books sometimes on my blog,” I told him when he gave me a puzzled look. And then I did that internal cringe thing we Christians sometimes do, realizing I was about to be outed in a big way if this book was an obviously Jesus-ey title, and that it seemed WAY too early for a faith-ish conversation. I hoped the title would be something generic or vague – CLOUDS IN THE SKY or THE SEARCH OF A GIRL perhaps. You know, the opposite of a conversation starter.
Then I pulled out THE GOD FIRST LIFE by Stovall Weems.
My first thought (after so much for vague) was, What kind of name is Stovall Weems? But I was distracted from this by our contractor’s question:
“Are you guys, like, really into faith?”
Well, yes. Yes we are. The conversation that followed was actually really fun. I don’t know why I dread these sorts of chats, other than some weird lurking sense that I’m supposed to have a plan to close the deal and get people to give their lives to Jesus on the spot whenever the subject comes up. The Bible doesn’t say this, of course. It just recommends that we have an answer when people ask us about the hope that we have (and that we not be idiots about it). Presumably this recommendation is large enough to include having an answer for the books that we read with weird not-at-all-vague titles. So I did my best to explain why I’d spend time reading a book called THE GOD FIRST LIFE, written by a man I’d never heard of. We had a great exchange about figuring out priorities and higher powers and keeping a focus on what matters in the crush of daily life. It was fun.
Once I’d actually read the book, the next conversation was even better. Because there’s really good stuff in there, and I enjoyed reading it. It’s not a new idea, that we should put God first in our lives. But about three pages in, I realized how badly I needed to be reminded.
The author tells how one day, he was walking along feeling swamped by questions – about life, what it all means, what to do, who to be – all the big stuff, and he thought of a passage from the account of Jesus’ life written by Matthew, where Jesus tells us not to worry about life stuff, but to “Seek first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” The author has used this as a decision making tool ever since. (This sounds glib, but he’s actually refreshingly sincere as he tells this story). From there, he shares the many ways he’s applied this, and how it’s helped him enjoy peace and confidence in God even in some challenging times. I was challenged and inspired.
It would be easy to say that this book is a bit simplistic. But as much as I’m tempted to argue that its tenants are best applied to normal, everyday life and not the big catastrophes and challenges that hit us out of nowhere, I’d be wrong. Perhaps my favorite part of reading this is that it reminds me to practice not worrying, believing in God, seeking His Kingdom first, in times like this when life is slower and not completely unhinged. I suspect that making this a habit will help when things get more complex.
This book gets a thumbs up/recommended, especially if you’re thinking about how to build/design your life. I just saw that the Kindle edition is only $4.27, so that’s a bargain if you want to check it out. But ignore the official “product description.” I thought it was a much more interesting book than that suggests!
Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.