God Space, Embracing the Inconvenient Adventure of Intimacy with God
By Keri Wyatt Kent. Faith Words, 2017.
The first sentence of the book is “Where is the space for God?” – I relate to the concerns of this book, having blogged about the epidemic of busyness. Too many people no longer have time for what really matters in life. Even people not in a “busy stage” of life are busy, busy, busy. No time. Some Christians are so busy with church activities that they actually end up…evading God, avoiding deeper concerns of faith, and lack a depth of relationship with other people. Their spiritual life is superficial, at best, but they are sadly deluded by their busyness for God. As Kent says, we have a “hurry sickness” that has crept up on us gradually.
The book explores 7 practices of spirituality that can help us carve out space for God. While the book calls them practices of spirituality, I’d describe them more like approaches to life – ways to perceive life and thus live your life differently as a result of seeing things differently. The book does address that. Kent emphasizes in the introduction that she is inviting you to a lifestyle, not offering you a religious to-do list. You can not simply try to “squeeze in” some new practices into your already crammed too full life. That will not work! Something squeezed in will not be effective, and misses the point.
The 7 chapter titles not only state the 7 practices, but bring in the “space” idea:
Sabbath: Space in My Calendar
Hospitality: Space in My Home
Worship: Space in the World
Simplicity: Space in My Soul
Generosity: Space in my Budget
Gratitude: Space in My Relationships
Critical Thinking: Space for Faith and Doubt.
The first chapter is about Sabbath, as Kent considers it foundational to all the others. In this chapter, she interacts with a book by Mark Buchanan, that I have also read and reviewed here. This is NOT about making Sunday a drudgery. This is NOT a list of things you can not do on Sunday. Rather it is taking a day to unplug from things that distract you, stress you, and keep your wheels spinning – and instead do things that bring you joy and true rest. Kent says “Not only are we moving too fast, we are spinning our wheels.” Again, it is NOT about doing nothing and being restricted, but about doing things that refresh and recharge you.
A point made by both Kent and Buchanan, placing the Sabbath command in its original context, is that in Deuteronomy 5:15 God states that the people should keep the Sabbath because they used to be slaves in Egypt. Kent says:
“Of course. Slaves cannot take a day off. So if you can’t take a day off, then perhaps you should ask, whose slave am I? What enslaves me?” – a challenging point.
I’m approaching 500 words, and have hardly addressed more than the first chapter! If perhaps, my description so far of this book makes you feel condemned by your busyness or sounds unrealistic to real life – rest assured that the author Kent is down to earth. Not only is her writing style conversational, she is practical and realistic, and openly shares her own struggles. There are times Kent drifted from certain practices.
Often in the book, Kent clarifies what a certain practice truly is…or is not.
Sometimes people avoid a practice because of a misunderstanding about it. Or they have condemned a certain practice without ever trying it! How can you condemn what you have not even tried? That is illogical.
For example, Kent clarifies that hospitality is NOT entertaining. I’ve blogged about that myself. Like Kent, my husband and I often show hospitality but we rarely entertain. Perhaps you have confused these two things? Or Kent brings clarification in the chapter on simplicity. We can confuse organizing and simplifying, with simplicity. She points out that, ironically, the magazine Real Simple rarely includes any articles about simplicity as a spiritual practice or as an attitude towards our life and belongings — but instead offers tips on organizing your stuff and overflows with ads for more stuff to buy!! Doh.
In closing, the 7 practices truly interconnect and Kent points that out throughout the book. The book flows. And on a practical level, because these practices interconnect, if you start with one, another will then come easier, and a cascade effect can occur! Please note that one of the spiritual practices is…critical thinking. Yes! I may have a separate blog post interacting with this exceptional chapter.
I recommend this book. It seems many people are consumed with busyness, but for Christians in particular to be so busy is…troubling. When we live a hurried and distracted life, it hinders our ability to truly live for Christ. My only critique is that I think the book could have benefited from discussion questions or applicational ideas at the end of each chapter.