April 17, 2012

What I'm Reading

Currently reading: Ordering Your Private World, by Gordon MacDonald

Funny how you can only embrace a book when the time is right. My friend Kim loaned me this book years ago. It's been on my shelf for years. I even tried to give it back once. He asked me "Did you read it?" and I think I politely told him - "I er um uh... no." And so he insisted that I keep it. Welp, I thought, if you insist it's that good, and you don't need it back, maybe I'll hang onto it until I finally decide I need to read it. Or more likely, the day comes that I have a shortage of books and nothing else seems right.

That title, Ordering Your Private World... that is not an attention-getter. That wasn't going to drag me into the book. Even now, I recoil at it a little bit. Order my world? Like a pizza? It doesn't even sound Christian, and if it is, it's probably that Joel Osteen brand or something. It sounds like it should be sold at self-help seminars, like a book for executives or office people, for pastors who give people sound advice, for... for grown-ups. I place myself firmly outside of all of those categories.

And yet... And yet...

I find myself recoiling at the title of the book a little less these days. Maybe I'm creeping toward genuinely needing to get my private world in order.

Ugh. And so here I am, reading this practical book with all of it's practical advice. And there's not a whole lot of that deep, abstract, mind-blowing mystical mysterious Jesus stuff I've gravitated towards, the kind of stuff I thought Kim might recommend. Nope. Common sense. Like how not to suck at budgeting your time. And how to keep your brain in shape.

And It's kinda refreshing. I don't like that it's refreshing, but it is.

This is not a new book, it's an old book. It's not high on the best-seller list, it's not hip (sorry, Gord, but you knew that). But it's a good read, for sure.

I've always wondered how to keep track of all the stuff I'm supposed to know. So I added a little notebook to my life so I didn't have to hold it all in my brain, and I started to write things in it. It's small and I carry it everywhere and I'd be destroyed if anyone ever found it and leafed through all the half-truths and unfinished thoughts and terrible story ideas in it. I write stuff like "buy bananas," and "always tell the truth because it's easier to remember" and "Swearing a lot in my head is probably a violation of Ephesians 4:29... or is it?"

All that to say: there's too much in life to balance and remember on your own. We forget stuff. Little things. Big things. Deep things. Spiritual things. Practical things. So sometimes we need other people to teach us new practical ideas and remind us of some of the ones we're obviously supposed to remember. Every now and then you need to read a book like this.

Maybe you don't need it. I do. I'm disorganized. (Pleeease do not read my little notebook.) And so this book is written for me. And Kim probably saw that I needed all those years ago, and it's a good thing I finally took his word for it. Some of us have a messy private world, which I think is a very concise way of saying we've got a big tangle of stuff we have to privately remember and think about and decide in our heads, hearts, souls. And if that inner world is messy, the outer one will be too.

MacDonald argues early on - and I would agree - that a private world can never really be in order without Christ. He writes in such a way that it's not preachy or overbearing. Even though I'm reading an edition that's as old as I am, it still fits today. For what it's worth, MacDonald has written an updated version that mentions Twitter and stuff.

I won't bother to write much more about it, because MacDonald has covered it fairly well in the book. Which you might want to read.


When you realize you need to.


Anonymous said...

i love it. everyone can give advice, few can take it. if someone has the erge to give it to you normally there is a reason behind it.

j.spears said...

yay, Jim! I love reading stuff you write about. :)
O, and I met John Quist. And I talked about you. And Dan. You are funny, funny guys.