Mark Batterson has taken an obscure story from 2 Samuel 23 and written a commentary on one of the most important issues for Christians and indeed in our world, “Living in Crippling fear.” So many writers are busy trying to prove relevance or put a new spin on old answers. Batterson takes the story of Benaiah and issues us a strategy to fearlessly live life as a faith led adventure.
Many people are paralyzed by fear. This book is an answer to the dissatisfaction and tension that many live in by redeeming that fear into un-stuckness. “In a Pit” points to Jesus as the ultimate risk taker and reward bearer. Rather than being stuck, we are freed through the process of looking to scripture, reframing fear, adversity, prayer into spiritual growth opportunities and not punishment. We do not have to be stuck in the fear of feeling foolish. The author’s treatment of “divergent” thinking is brilliant. Children and new Christians-who haven’t met a theologian yet- are born to think “out of the box. Fear traps us within that box.
Batterson’s calls the reader to grow and mature by living the adventure of Christ, “tapping into our natural weirdness” and recognizing that God does not meet anyone in the Bible through “normal’ means. Besides, “normality is overrated” and maturity is often mistakes as conformity.
Batterson’s style is fresh and efficient. The text is a mere 171 pages and every word counts. There are an abundance of sound- bites that ring in my ears. “In a Pit” is flexible in design. It can be read devotionally either by a chapter a day or in about two sittings or in a small group by using the chapter reviews and end notes.
The chapter reviews have discussion “points to remember” and a sensible “Starting Your Chase” suggestion that prompt the reader to action. The goal of this book is not merely telling you to quit being afraid. Batterson gives uniquely Christ-centered reasons and spirit led ways to take the first step. An excellent read.
Thanks to Multnomah press and the author for giving me this book in exchange for writing this review.
Thus ends the review but begins my personal thoughts generated by this reading. So many people will not read a book before reading comments and gathering rating information. Many will not watch a film or listen to music that they know nothing about. The Christian life, our country and our personal satisfaction comes from discovery and not certainty. Are people losing their taste for risk?
Fear is crippling so many people. Unresolved it becomes boredom or even depression. Reframing fear into a motivation and not a stumbling block is Mark Batterson’s thesis and fearlessness is Christ’s gift to us through salvation. Christ is not calling us to reckless or random action but walking by “Faith and not by sight”. Scripture offers a touchstone for our decision making; prayer offers a walking connection to Christ and the church a safe place to train for the journey.
The call to the church is to be a place of adventure and a sponsor of those jumping into the disciple’s life. Membership is not enough and study is not the goal. Finding our way as we go is so satisfying. Ambiguity is difficult for some but faith in Christ can actually cause the disciple to crave it rather than mistaking it as dangerous.
This past weekend I heard a story from a colleague about his personal passion to minister to homeless people in the Tyler Texas area. This is how his adventuring works; He will see a homeless person, lock his kids in the car, determine them to be safe, and then motion his family to join them. He will give snacks, meal coupons, and pray for that person. While driving around with his pre-school daughter, she screamed, “Daddy stop” as she saw a homeless man that she recognized. Her pastor-dad told her no, they were in a hurry to get somewhere else. The little girl stuck to her calling and insisted loudly that they stop. He did stop-and all were blessed-the man, the daughter, and the dad. This is normality at their house.
This is the life that Mark Batterson is describing. This is adventure in Christ. This is how a little girl changes the world…..starting with us boring normal guys.