Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Book Review of Kyle Idleman's Aha

Kyle Idleman’s book, Aha, steers you away from the self-help section of the land of books and helps you realize that maybe, just maybe- you aren’t enough to help yourself. Perhaps you need . . . something more.

You are taken to a place in the Bible that, if you’ve ever wondered from the familiar (be it church, your family, anything) and turned your back on it all, you will either already know- or you will just feel better about "coming home". It is the story of the prodigal son. It’s a story that I cannot read without shedding a tear. Not because it makes me sad, but because I have been there and I know the truth of this story. Our loved ones (and God) want us to come home. They do not care where we have been or what we have done while we were gone, they simply want us home.

"He sat straight up and suddenly realized what his life had become. He wondered how things had turned out this way. When he’d left his father’s house, he’d never imagined it would have come to this. This was never part of the plan. But now life had his attention, and he knew things had to change. One moment he was sleeping, the next he was awake." (Idleman. 2014. P.30, 31)

Ever been there? Does it sound or feel familiar? If it does, then read Aha. Read it with openness. Read it with your Bible open beside you. Kyle Idleman takes passages and parables from the Bible and he will help open your eyes to the "alarms" that may already be sounding in your life. Stop hitting the snooze button. Stop walking into libraries and book stores, and thinking books written by other humans with just as many problems as you can help fix you. Throw your misconceptions about God (He’s unreasonable, unpleasable, unmerciful, uncaring, etc) out the window and see that God just wants to you to come home. I read somewhere on Facebook a quote that said, "Satan knows your name, but calls you by your sin. God knows your sin, but calls you by your name." There is truth in those words. God does not care what your sin is or was, He’s there to tell you it doesn’t matter, He loves you regardless, and it’s not too late to do the right thing. (Idleman. 2014. P.37)

Idleman goes on to discuss how deeper spirituality, more often than not, results from difficult circumstances. You may find that your day is filled with clutter and insane schedules. You may have little to no time for God or prayer in your life. But then something devastating happens: in my own family’s case, unemployment. I would like to say that I spend a little time every day talking to God in prayer, but prior to this circumstance, I doubt I did. I can guarantee you that in those long drawn out months of not knowing what we were going to do financially, I spoke to God every day, and it wasn’t just about my problems. I learned in those months to celebrate the smallest victory and to stop complaining about things in general. I learned to be thankful for everything. I learned to trust my husband in every course of action and to verbally cheer him on in his ventures. Without the difficult circumstance that happened in our lives, I would not have grown closer to God. Along that same thought, Idleman tells an abbreviated story Gerald Sittser who through incredible loss and grief comes to the realization (as we all should) that it is not the loss, the hardship, or the difficult circumstance that becomes our story; it is our response to it that will define us. (Idleman. 2014. P.56,57)

I have heard Psalm 46:10 for the better part of my life from multiple facets: "Be still and know that I am God." I have never really found comfort or great meaning in that verse. While some of you may be gaping at the screen right now, it is true. I would read it and think, "that’s nice." That’s it. It was not a great, fantastic, moving verse for me. Until it was what I needed. My life had gotten too busy. Everything was hectic, we were always running late, (we still are, but without the negativity) I was angry all the time, our family was falling apart at the seams. Then, I read that verse. It hit me as though I had run full force into a brick wall. "Be still! Be quiet, sit still, and just listen and know that I am God." My heart stopped pounding with panic. That short verse from Psalms packs a punch. It just took a lot of alarms going off in my life to realize it. Idleman illustrates this perfectly.

In closing, you should know this book will contain a lot of "kick yourself" moments of looking back on moments in your life and realizing you should have seen the signs. It speaks to the obvious a great deal . . . and while that seems simple and you may ask yourself why in the world you would need to read it- I’m going to ask you to just stop. Stop and listen. Is your life spiraling out of control? Do you feel like your marriage is on the verge of failing? Do you feel like you’re on the edge of a constant disaster? Do you simply have a feeling of guilt that you constantly push away because you do not want to deal with it right now?

Read this book. Read it and open your heart. Maybe it isn’t speaking to you, but to a friend or a loved one. Read it. Read it and realize that your problems are probably bigger than you and your stack of self help books, but nothing . . . nothing in this world is bigger than God. Kyle Idleman’s book is not a self help book, as he will tell you. It is a book that makes you feel good, that will convict you on multiple levels, and reminds you through parables, Bible verses, and true life experience, to be still and listen to God. This book made me laugh and this book made me cry, but most of all this book caused me to realize God is always there, always willing to give us a warning (if not more than one) before we make some cataclysmic mistake that will cost us dearly in some way. Never has the phrase, "make wise choices" made so much sense.

Read this book and come home.

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