Saturday, November 21, 2015

We All Finish, but Where & How Is The Issue


Sacred Grit: Faith To Push Through When You Feel Like Giving Up
John D. Duncan, Austin Brothers Publishing, Fort Worth, Texas, USA, 2015

This is John Duncan’s second book in his “Sacred” trilogy.  In the first one, Sacred Space, he shared with us how to find a) the silence we need in order to survive in this crazy world, b) the speech that we need to be able to converse with God, and c) the ear we must cultivate to hear God.
In Sacred Grit, he takes us to a training ground for the Christian life.  If we’re going to finish well, we must be trained to expect and overcome three things.  Like a soldier in on the front lines, we have to face and deal with “sacred fear”.  Like an athlete in the arena we have to prepare to withstand “sacred agony”.  And like a farmer in the field of life, we have to welcome “sacred sweat” if we are to bear fruit.  It is only then that the “sacred grit” we seek and so dearly need to survive the Christian life can see us through to the end, having achieved all that we were meant to accomplish.
Participants to a recent trip to Israel were told that if we were to survive the trip, most of which took place in the country’s desert, we had to train quit hard long before we even hopped on the plane to get there.  He had to overcome the fear of being in the Middle East, get in the physical condition needed to handle the heat and terrain, including the climbing of mountains and cliffs, and to bring the proper clothing because we would indeed be sweating.  We were more ready for our trip than John Wayne was for filming the movie, True Grit.  And the rewards were extraordinary – visually, socially, mentally, and above all, spiritually.  That’s what Sacred Grit does for the Christian who wants to live a victorious and meaningful life.
Like the book’s cover picture and the picture of a single poppy growing out of the rocks that I took in the Negev desert of Israel,  the Christian is capable of breaking through the hard rock challenges of life – physical, social, mental, and spiritual -- and indeed “finishing well” and “winning the race of life” for his Lord.  With “sacred grit” he/she has the potential of becoming, or doing, something beautiful for others, and even for him/herself to marvel at, through the grace of God.
Duncan helps us turn our fear into courage, our failures into successes, and our faith into one that produces fruit.  For those who think that Duncan would never understand the darkness they live in, he has this to say:  “ . . . even in darkness you have potential to do your very best work in the eyes of God, especially if you open your eyes to God’s vision.”
His first two books together show us how getting “sacred space” and embracing “sacred grit” helps us pursue holiness, please God more, and draw us closer to Christ as we learn to trust Him more.
Duncan is brutally honest with his readers. As much as he’d like to tell us that the Christian life “is as easy as sipping lemonade on the front porch”, he must tell us that it works us hard inside and out, and it works stuff out of us.  He says it wearies us on some days and pushes us to our limits on others.  Finally, it will ‘grace’ us but not before it causes us to sweat.
And I love one of his key conclusions with respect to the hard labor that’s required of us.  He says that while we are definitely not alone, for God is with us, we will often very much feel alone out there under the hot sun in the middle of the field. This isn’t your typical feel good book.  It wasn’t meant to be.  It was intended to show you why you can’t make it without resilience and how to get it.
Already I’ve been able to help a dear friend and myself with one of the author’s quotes I liked very much.  John writes, “Your greatest ministry will take place alone, away from the eyes of watchers, and only in the eyes of God who, for all practical purposes, is the One who matters anyway.” If one truly accepts that, he/she is well on their way to significance.
The way the world is going today, if there are two things we need – they’re “sacred space” to get our bearings and “sacred grit” to get to our destination. 

--   Ken B. Godevenos, Accord Resolution Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario. 15/11/21 

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