The Joy And Help Of Steeping In A Good Book

coffee

If you had the opportunity to sit down and have a cup of coffee or tea with anyone, who would you choose? What would you ask them? What things could you draw from their experience that would help you do life better?

Books are the link to making this possible.

Books allow us to meet with someone we’ve never met to hear what life looks like from their window. It’s like finding a cozy corner in your local coffee shop and opening your ear to hear what’s weighing on their heart. What they share can often be the exact thing we need to help us face our current struggles with hope, not fear.

I am currently reading a book by Joni Eareckson Tada titled, A Place Of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty. If you don’t recognize her name, you may have heard her story. She was in a diving accident at the age of 18 that left her paralyzed from the neck down. She has spent over 40 years in a wheelchair, but this hasn’t stopped her from living life to the fullest. Despite all her hardships and pain she has managed to start a  ministry to those who, like her, live life in a wheelchair. She provides wheelchairs for free to the disabled in 3rd world countries who have no means to buy one for themselves. She is an accomplished artist using her teeth to hold the paintbrush. She is also a popular speaker and author who knows how to tell a story by using colorful words to paint a vivid picture that lingers long in the mind.

However, her words are also haunting. She speaks from a place I have never experienced–constant, unbearable pain. Yet her faith and trust in God is stronger than anyone I’ve ever known. It’s a compelling read that I encourage all who are in need of encouragement to read slowly and thoughtfully. It will challenge you. It will bring tears to your eyes. It will warm your heart, and it will make you think. Much like an afternoon conversation with a good friend.

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Here is a portion she shared with me this morning about her talk with a fellow friend and NASCAR driver:

Some time ago I asked Dan about Dale Earnhardt’s infamous 2001 crash, which took the NASCAR icon’s life…it’s obvious Dale couldn’t pull out of that plunge toward the wall. His speed and the trajectory of his car just made escape impossible. I asked Dan if that kind of thing happens often on a speedway.

“Oh yes,” he said, “Guys in their cars get in a spin, get bumped, and they see that wall coming at them. But I’ll tell you one thing they don’t do, Joni. They don’t look at that wall! Their natural instincts tell them to, but their training tells them to keep their eyes on the track and steer out of that spin. You see, if they look at the wall, they’ll freeze. Your body just reacts; it can’t help it. But if you look down the speedway and steer toward that open space, all your nerve endings are concentrating on that, not on bracing for an impact.”

That’s the way we are in our human nature. We fix our eyes on the trial that looms immediately before us, allowing ourselves to become gripped with fear. We say to ourselves, This is impossible! I’ll never get through this. I’ll never find a way through. I’ll never recover. I’d better brace for an impact, because it’s going to be a hard, hard hit. AHHHHH…

But after listening to Dan and his race-car wisdom, I realize that the key is to take your eyes off the wall and start concentrating on the future and its opportunities (steer for the open space!), rather than on the present dilemmas that freeze us into impotence…

…Little wonder the book of Hebrews tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus, and the author of Colossians says, “Set your heart on things above,” and the Gospels say, “Lift up your head, for your salvation draws nigh.”

It just may keep you from hitting the wall!

This one analogy has done more to help me today than anything else could. It has caused me to lift my eyes upward and outward, instead of looking inward and downward. Maybe you’re facing a difficult time. If we could sit and have coffee today I would love to help you look towards the open space of your current situation and hopefully help you avoid a crash. You don’t have to focus on the wall.

This is the power a good book has on those who take the time to sip each word and let it penetrate deep into the heart.

What are you currently reading, and how is the author helping you change your perspective? 

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” 
― Charles William Eliot

I invite you to follow what I’m reading on GoodReads.