The Loudmouth Protestant

October 15, 2007

Put Down the Book!

I mentioned in an earlier post that I believe my books mock me. This is so ironic because I am a bookworm. I don’t just read books, I am a purveyor of books. I’m not the kind of purveyor who collects antiquated books to decorate ornate bookshelves. I am the kind of purveyor that collects brand new books. Books with interesting cover art, interesting titles, interesting descriptions, etc. But I am starting to believe that there is something wrong with us and our books.

We have books to address myriad topics and some Christians are very quick to run to a book–not The Book–to find solutions to life’s problems. The most pressing of them, singleness. Every year there are hundred if not thousands of books published for the single Christian. The books tell us how to walk in singleness, how to be happy in singleness, how to dress and act in singleness, explains why we are single, maybe tells us how long we will be single and the list goes on. Many of us run to these books because we believe that we must read them during our season of singleness. We think it will help us better cope with being single or give us some bold revelation about it. I am a victim of reading too many of the books–or at least reading them halfway through and getting bored with the concept. But yesterday it dawned on me…

As I was chatting with a friend, she told me that maybe we ought not be so quick to acquire the books that talk about our singleness. She mentioned my dear friend who got married a couple of weeks ago. The story behind her reference was that about a year and a half ago–before the friend even met her husband–I had forwarded one of those statistic laden articles about how 42.4% have never been married and might not ever be. Without reading the article, my dear friend quickly responded to my forward and put a cease and desist order on my sending the rubbish around. She said that she would not claim any of it and the stats don’t speak for her. I was dumbfounded, but I concurred and discontinued forwarding any articles to her. I even stopped reading them myself. But the books still live on.

In the past year I’ve acquired many books on relationships and marriage. There’s “How to Get a Date Worth Keeping”, “Waiting and Dating”, “Single Saved and Having Sex”, “Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye” and my latest acquisition “Now and Not Yet.” I had two copies of the latter book, one of which I was passing along to my friend to read along with me. When another friend saw me with the book in church and asked me what it was about, she rolled her eyes when the word “single” came out of my mouth. I didn’t get it then, but I think that I get it now.

You see, if all you are feeding yourself is information on your singleness–the statistics, the sob stories, the love novels, the magazine articles–and you are not feeding yourself with what God has to say about it, you are being consumed by the wrong thing. The point is not for us to be consumed by our singleness but for us to be consumed with God during the season. A friend from church put it wonderfully, she said “I want to be so consumed with God that one day I wake up next to my husband and just wonder how it happened.” We need not concern ourselves with trying to figure out our singleness in the 21st Century. His word tells us to “lean not on our own understanding.”

So I challenge people to step away from the books for a moment–particularly if you are finding that you rush to them more then you rush to your Bible or to your knees–and see what God has to say about it first. Let him lead you to the appropriate book. It will be a better use of your time.

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