Thursday, January 2, 2014

Pilgrimage by Lynn Austin

This is another book review.  This book was given to my by Bethany House Publishers to read for reviewing purposes.

In many ways, this book review is appropriate after my last post.  This past year feels like it was a pilgrimage for me, at times, at least.  It was a journey through uncharted waters and as I look ahead to 2014, I realize that the uncharted waters are continuing and they look a little turbulent at times, but if I can remember some of the lessons I learned and that stuck out to me in this book, it should help.

Lynn Austin took a trip to the Holy Lands and visited many of the same places Jesus would have been when He was on earth.  She took this trip at a time in her life when she felt dry, empty and barren.  Her children had all left home and I think she was longing for purpose and meaning and was coming up empty.  So her and her husband went on this tour group and with each place visited she has uses the stories that happened there and relates them to her own life and how it can affect her today.  

The road from Jerusalem to Jericho and the story of the Good Samaritan: the Samaritan was hated and certainly not required to help the injured man but he loved and so he did what needed to be done.  Listen to what Lynn has to say here: "Jesus was saying that people need to stop following a list of rules and follow God's example of love and compassion.  To truly love your neighbor, you must broaden your scope of who your neighbor is, even if it means helping your enemies.  People like me want rules.  We want to package God's laws in a neat set of books so that we can analyze them and reference them.  If we do everything "by the book," we've done our duty.  We want order and stability, the kind you find in a basketball game or a soccer match where we know all the rules and can clearly see when they're broken.....We want to know exactly whom to root for and who our enemy is.  And we want our religion neatly structured, too, so we can keep score and know precisely what is required of us with no shades of gray in our black-and-white world." But Jesus came along and demolished that notion--He wants us to reach out and help the person who is struggling with life-who is sick and hurting from mistakes they have made--to the one who has lost everything precious in life and doesn't believe life is worth going on--to even the person who looks like they have it all together, but in reality they are hurting as much as the next person.  He wants us to reflect Jesus to them, to be the Good Samaritan as the rest of the world gossips and moves on without them.

She ends her stay there by keeping the Sabbath with the Jews.  The streets are quiet, the cell phones are turned off, the computers are put away and all is rest.  The meals for the whole Sabbath are made before sundown and the table is set with fine linen and china.  All is at rest on the Sabbath.  It is a time to rest and rejuvenate and recharge.  Yes, Christianity is about so much more than being a Christian on Sundays only, but there is something about just resting and relaxing and pausing to reflect on the past week and look ahead to the new week.  It's about worshiping God and seeing Him at work in our lives.  It's about resting so we can be recharged to serve Him every moment of every day in the next busy week.  I for one love Sundays for that very reason--No, I don't get rid of the cell phones and computer and I don't make ahead all my food for the whole day, but it's a relaxing day and it leaves me ready for Monday.

I did enjoy this book and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to visit the Holy Lands through the pages of a book.  It is inspiring and challenging.  

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