A few weeks later I had to get my driver's license replaced, which involved waiting 30 minutes for them to print it. During that 30 minutes I perused the book section at the Goodwill next door. As I scanned the books for something I wanted that cost less than $2 (all that I had in my pocket), my eyes landed on Beyond Our Selves by Catherine Marshall, hardback edition, for $1.99. Of course I bought it. Its forty-year-old wisdom impacted my life in a way that the popular, modern, utterly forgettable book hadn't. I read the book again in 2004 when I broke my leg and spent weeks on the couch recuperating. My hospital bracelet is still in that book, marking the spot I left off. The hardback book got tossed out of my luggage in the final morning purge when I discovered my trunk to be 2 pounds too heavy, and I've been missing it.
When I was on my way to Uganda last month, I stopped in Arusha (in northern Tanzania) and had to get some paperwork for my cell phone. While I was waiting for that, I walked to the nearby supermarket, and on the way I spotted one of the tents that are the used book stores in East Africa. I scanned the piles of English, French, Russian, and Swedish titles, looking for anything worth reading for any price, when my eyes landed on Something More by Catherine Marshall. After reading Beyond Our Selves, it never occurred to me to see if she had written anything else, so to see another book by her in a pile of French language romance novels was a surprise, to say the least. I snatched it up, and paid roughly $2 for it.
Just as her earlier book had impacted an earlier time in my life, Something More, written in 1974, has been such a challenge and encouragement to me. Each chapter is about another topic related to following Jesus in a practical and common-sense way. Her tone is always humble, so that although her words on each page are cutting to the center of my increasingly cynical heart, it is in such a tender way that I cannot resist the call to greater faith and discipleship. Here's something I underlined yesterday that speaks very much to my current state of mind:
"Criticalness leads to discontent. Discontent expels appreciation and gratitude. Self-pity moves in and turns the attention inward; surely self deserves something better, we tell ourselves, such as happiness, prosperity, that its ideas and demands be heard and implemented. If what self wants will hurt others-spouse, children, parents, store proprietors, educational institutions, bystanders-well, they asked for it in one way or another. Anyhow, the end justifies the means." -"The Dilemma of Our Rebellion", Something More, p. 196
Too often as young people, we appreciate only modern perspectives, foolishly thinking that only the most recent, up-to-date writers and philosophers can understand and speak into this world we live in. As I have learned, twice now, and as the Seeker said in Ecclesiastes "There is nothing new under the sun."
So I challenge you to read something old. Not just "classic" and old, like C.S. Lewis or Henri Nouwen, but something a little off the beaten path. You know my recommendations.
|I always have to read this book with a pen to underline with and my journal to take notes in.|