“A barrier had been broken. Beneath the hard, painful surface of her recollection were layers of healing truth. God had never left her side, not even for a moment.”
Max Lucado is the author of dozens of books that have gone to become major bestsellers. With over 92 million copies sold and having penned close to 100 books, the prolific author also ministers at the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. His gift for storytelling is so apparent on each and every mission he sets out to do, it’s no wonder in 2005, the Reader’s Digest dubbed him “The Best Preacher in America.”
My first Max Lucado book was given to me just before leaving the States for good after finishing my studies there. It was on the very last day, right when I was carrying my luggages to the taxi. You’d never guess who it was from – my landlord. I suspect she’s a clairvoyant, but anywho, she gave me the thin, 64-page book, “He Did This Just For You” that so many have found life-changing. I think I only got around to it a couple of years or so later, and I remember on the night that I binged on it, I cried helplessly in my room. It was the day I realized I have a father I never had. Had I not receive this seemingly random gift from my landlord, I’d never really see the biblical God as that personal. Fast forward some time toward the end of 2016, I was in the local bookstore as usual and I found this Max Lucado fiction. I grabbed it impulsively because I know there’s a higher chance I’d finish a fiction than a nonfiction book, and also because the preamble caught my instant attention at the time I bought it:
“What if you could ask God anything?
What would you ask? And how would He answer?”
Today was a fairly ordinary day. My husband took the morning off his job to accompany me to go meet someone for something I’m working on. I’m so grateful it wasn’t a time-waster for him, because when I confessed my fear, of having him feel his time went wasted, he told me he actually got much out of the time spent accompanying me. God works in amazing ways.
Then, as the day went by, the husband got funnier and funnier. In ways that only he can, in ways that only I find funny.
The World According to Anna by Jostein Gaarder, page 90
“Man is perhaps the only living creature in the whole universe that has a universal consciousness – a prodigious sense of this immense, mysterious cosmos of which we are an essential part. So maintaining life on this planet is not only a global responsibility; it is a cosmic responsibility.“
I’ve always loved fiction for as long as I can remember. To me, characters, albeit imaginary ones, speak more truth than the surface-level information and knowledge I get from most nonfiction books. As a kid I fell in love with them while trying to improve my English. I started reading more because I heard that reading improves your linguistic abilities. Then as I grew up, and I don’t know if it’s just me, it seems like people respect you more if you read more nonfiction than mere literature, as it implies you’ve acquired more real-world, practical and applicable knowledge rather than just reading for pleasure. I gave in to that impression and gradually lost interest in books at all.
This year, however, has been the year that I embraced my true self. I made a simple goal of reading 12 books of any kind to fall in love with books again, and I ended up with 99% fiction. As I said, reading was one way I take pleasure, and I find great joy in watching stories unfold and journeying with particular characters as they go through highs and lows in order to experience change. Like a cup of good tea, it’s been a way for me to unwind and loosen the tangled thoughts in my head. It takes my mind off myself and watching how another character as flawed as I am faces his or her challenges. I’m glad I’ve taken the plunge into worlds that only exist in the mind once again, because as Einstein famously said, imagination is more important than knowledge. Reading into characters deeply has made me a more considerate and empathetic person than I was a year ago.
Here are the pieces of literature (plus one nonfiction) I’ve read this year, listed in reading chronological order:
The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“We are a religion of captains hoping to go down with the ship. Though we teach our children that the worst thing Judas ever did – worse even than betraying Jesus – was committing suicide, the truth is that what moves the lifeblood of our faith is a thumping impulse toward self-destruction. Greater love has no one than this, Jesus says in the gospel of John. To lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
This is easily one of the best books I’ve ever read. I’ve got so much to say that this review has bloated up to the length of a standard novella. You were warned.