I have finished yet another non-fiction book! Thank you for the slow clap.
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by the hilariously brave Jen Hatmaker rocked my socks off. I've already hinted as much in my post for (in)courage about the chapter on Waste, but I wanted to share a bit more about this brilliant book and it's main message:
Jesus, may there be less of me and my junk and more of You and Your kingdom.
Truth be told, I was afraid. I'd heard about this book, and really, the last thing I wanted to read was something else to make me feel more guilty (than I already do) about what I wasn't doing (or wasn't doing well enough). But this is not that book.
You see, God had already called Jen to a life changed. And He's already called me to that, too. But the thing is, I don't think many of us really know what that change is to look like. We feel in our bones and in the (very) few contemporary worship songs that touch our hearts, and see in the sojourners who have gone before us into the great unknown of risky obedience, we have been set apart to do and be something different, but what that is...? Well, I for one am fumbling in the dark, hands outstretched, feeling for something tangible to keep me steady and point the way.
This message gets drowned out with busy nonsense. It gets overshadowed by online bill pay and mandatory church programs and the school pick up line and coffee meetings. We see glimpses of it in a random blog post or an invitation in the mail, but then mom, i need this permission slip tomorrow! and when is dinner ready? and oh my gosh there is just so much junk in my house where did I put that email address?!
Are you feeling any of this? Well, apparently Jen was, and they were soon making choices of change: resigning from the big (well-dressed) church, planting a church in an undesirable neighbourhood, and pursuing the call to adoption, to name just a few. But then a hurricane-displaced child showed up, recognized affluent wealth in the open doors of her 2400 square foot home, and Jen's mutiny against excess began to take shape.
Food, Clothing, Possessions, Media, Waste, Spending, Stress. These are the areas of relatively normal human life where Jen saw something amiss, something that needed to change, something that needed some... tweaking. Thus began a year-long experiment of abstaining from (or practicing anew) one topic, for one month, in seven simple ways.
Jen's LLOL humour (literally laugh out loud), her obvious hard-spent research, and her trial-and-error approach kept me reading. As did her refusal to turn this project into another form of evangelical guilt-turned-legalism (spoiler alert: she fails sometimes!). This book, her experiment, is about freedom. It is about letting go of a culturally desired, but not entirely necessary way of life. It is about thinking before you eat, before you spend, before you throw away, before you turn on the computer. It is about asking yourself, in that oh-so-1990s way, What would Jesus do?
And it's about loving God, loving your neighbour, loving your city and loving the world in actions and in truth.
When I closed the last page of 7, I did not feel guilty. Quite the contrary, I feel empowered. I feel like a good friend had just walked me through a refining fire, showing me the glory on the other side (I miss my new good friend Jen). I can see tangible acts of change, of grace, of mercy, of Gospel living. I can see small steps in obedience that lead me closer to Jesus.
This is no formula and it is no checklist. 7 is at the very least a guidepost, at the most a call to repentance. It is an ebenezer, and it is a challenge. I hope we're all brave enough to write a different script, to embrace a counter-cultural life of simplicity and stewardship, to put God's heart above our bottom line. Less of me, more of Jesus.
Oh, that sounds so nice for a change.
My new good friend Jen did not compensate me for this review in any way. But I'm not above a tweet shout-out or friending on facebook.
So tell me, have YOU read it? Or is there something else on your nightstand that I have to know about?