Saturday, March 21, 2009

Book Review: Girl Meets God

I'm sure I've missed the boat on the pop culture reading this book, but our church is having a women's retreat and the author of Girl Meets God, Lauren Winner, is speaking there, so I thought I'd see if the local library carried a copy so I could catch up with the times. I wasn't actually sure what to expect. It sounded like a catchy title for a book that would end up having nothing to do with our Christian walk, but it has proven to be the exact opposite and has challenged me to think differently about so many litergical elements that I have taken for granted for so long (and too long).

This book helped to bring new meaning to each of the seasons in the Christian calendar. Broken up into Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Eastertide, and Pentecost, Winner describes her own journey through life as a Christian instead of a Jew - but how her past as a Jew still colors her future as a Christian. Two components in particular that I felt compelled to re-incorporate into my Christian life are Lenten sacrifices (see earlier post) and Confession.

There was one quote that I hope stays with me for a long time. She was referring to leil tikkum Shavuot, the penance that the Jews pay for falling asleep while God was revealing himself to Moses on Sinai. As part of the penance, they stay up all night on Shavuot studying the Torah. Centuries later, Peter and the other disciples can't stay awake while Jesus is praying in Gethsemane. Even when Jesus told them that his betrayer was coming and that he was 'deeply grieved, even to death,' they still fell asleep three times. This is what Winner says that I hope I can remember...

"My life is like a disciple's nap in Gethsemane: I have promised, over and over, to be vigilant for the things of God, to be awake to Him, but I seem to spend much of my life sleeping."

It is so honest and true, and seems to describe me just as much as it describes her. I would venture to guess that it describes most of us. My prayers are so often filled with longings to 'do better' or 'be better' as a Christian. Praise God that our salvation isn't based on 'staying awake' but on the grace of God alone! In her chapter on Confession, she says this to the argument that Christians can do as they please because they are under the umbrella of grace...

"... I will always keep screwing up. And God somehow will keep forgiving me, and pulling me closer to Him. He will, over time, make me sadder and sadder when I spit in His eye. He will make me love Him better. And that might mean, maybe, that I will sin a little bit less."

Christian life is a journey. The destination is one that might be right around the corner or one that we won't see on this side of death. Thankfully we have each other to help us through. We have each other to encourage us to be the best that God intended us to be. We have each other to pray with us when we fail and sin and let God down. And through it all, we have each other as a community of believers in the same God who calls us all to be His children.

If you haven't read this book, or if you have but need a refresher, read it during this season of preparation for Easter. It never hurts to be reminded why you believe what you believe. 4 Stars.

3 comments:

Becky said...

Lauren spoke at Jubilee at least 3 times now and she is fantastic. I wish I was as witty and intellectual as she is. Make sure you are able to hear her even if you can't go to the whole retreat. I also recommend her other books: Mudhouse Sabbath and Real Sex.

Becky said...

p.s. i think i'll pull out my copy & reread too...

suzannah said...

she is such a great writer, and those other titles are good reads, too.