Equally Yet Uniquely Invited {Book Club}

This is how I came to discover Invitations From God by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun.

It was the beginning of my second semester of seminary. I was a few minutes early to NT512 (Acts and the Epistles) and pulled out The Kite Runner. In seminary it was a rare treat to read anything that wasn’t on the syllabus and a woman sitting in the row in front of me turned around to ask what I was reading. Long story short: we were drawn to the same type of books which meant that we had to be friends, clearly.

Several years later after graduation, I was in her home in New Jersey when a box of books arrived. Adele Ahlberg Calhoun is Kathleen’s friend and Invitations had recently been published so in support of her friend, Kathleen ordered seven copies to give to friends. When she opened the box, Kathleen explained the back story (I own Adele’s Spiritual Disciplines Handbook thanks to Kathleen) and gave me a copy.

I fell in love with the cover.

And then I fell in love with the spiritual practice of viewing everything that happens to us as an invitation from God. This book is in my Top 10 Books of All Time. After I read it I selected it as the professional development for the member care providers I trained and worked with. This spiritual practice is one you will want to share, I can almost guarantee.

I sat down this morning to reread the introduction and Chapter one and got a giddy feeling. I marked and starred and wrote so many notes to myself that I even had a wee chat with myself. “Amy, you cannot merely copy every line you love into a blog post. With the amount you love, that is called plagiarism.”

Just to give you a sense of what I’m restraining myself from, my page of notes begins “1st page!!” And it is only page one! Lord help us :-).

“Invitations pound away at the coastlines of the soul. They contain a transforming force that can carve out possible and impossible futures.”

Anyone feeling a bit pounded these days for a future you may not want to have to face? Increase in support needs? Aging parents? Language learning more difficult than you had hoped? Your child not growing out of his or her learning needs? Visa regulations changing?

Pound.

Pound.

Pound.

On page 11 (I have a print copy because this is a must hold book for me), I appreciated seeing the types of invitations Jesus needed to navigate: business and career, family, educational, and entertainment and social. I feel all the more understood and loved by God reading this section.

I am drawn to the phrase “God the great inviter” and the line: “In the Gospels we see how Jesus navigated invitations while responding to and extending God’s invitations.”

In these we see, if this is how God and Jesus interacted, this is how we can interact with God.

“God’s invitation to ‘save the world’ didn’t stop Jesus from attending to his own soul in the process. Saying yes to the invitation to be with God was the wellspring of his heart and the source of all his actions.” And at the end of the section: “Jesus’ actions, in and of themselves, often make no sense unless we see them as responses to some hidden invitation—an invitation received from time spent alone with his Father.” And yet later, “This book is about invitations like these: divine invitations we miss or ignore because we’ve said yes to going with the cultural flow. Only free people know how to say yes and no.”

Anybody else want to high five at this point because you know This Is The Path of Life? And it is the path God is inviting us on?

Chapter one has come to mind so often the last few months with my new relationship with food as I have sensed an invitation to participate in my own healing. It seems something has gotten very out of whack in my gut and each body can manifest the “out of whackness” differently. When I first heard it was about my gut, I thought the doctor and internet resources were dead wrong (how’s that for a touch of arrogance?). But it was because I do not have stomach problems. I have no pain or reactions in my stomach, so how can this be a gut problem?

I was also told, “You did not become out of whack overnight, this is going to take a long time to heal.” Now trying to pin down what “a long time” means is a bit like trying to get a definite answer as to when the Denver Broncos will win the Superbowl. I want an exact answer AND I want the answer to be THIS year. Sooner rather than later, please.

Instead, this invitation is “Amy, will you change how you eat for months and months? Will you trust that healing is happening and maybe not focus so much on the end result as the process?” So when Jesus asks me, “Do you want to get well?” What I hear is “Do you want to get well . . . now?”  And to that question, I can answer a hearty yes. But when the question is simply, “Do you want to get well” without qualifiers as to what getting well entails, I’ll be honest that I’m a bit weary these days.

I also think of people near and dear to me and wonder what “getting well” looks like for them. Another round of major depression knowing this most likely will not be the last. Adjusting to life with your husband buried in the ground. Still not getting married or pregnant or the fussy eater making every meal a battle. What does “getting well” look like in each instance?

I don’t know. But I think God is inviting each of us to sit with these questions. He is not interested in shallow or quick answers.

I can’t wait to chat in the comments. What stood out to you or you would like to talk about from the introduction or chapter one?

See you in the comments :),

Amy

4 Comments

  1. Beth Everett March 13, 2017

    I’m really looking forward to reading this book in community, Amy! Great choice!

    Just today I did something that I have been needing to do and meaning to do for a very long time – I made an appointment to see the chiropractor. I have had back and neck issues for many years, seen chiropractors on occasion over the years (and in various countries), and for the last year and half in this new country we now live in, have been putting it off. Why? Because I have gotten used to living with a certain amount of pain. When it gets really bad I just rest more or take some pain killers, but have been avoiding taking the step to get help.
    My physical journey to getting neck and back relief has been a picture to me of my spiritual journey and the need to be aware of when I am slipping into times of settling into a norm, an unhealthy norm.
    The author mentions that the pool and the community where this man sat was a place “where sickness was the norm” [kindle LOC209]
    And then later, she says, “It is not hard to get stuck. It’s easy for me to settle into ‘this little life of mine.’ We settle into roles that shape our identity: I am a mom. I am successful. I am funny. We also settle into living with things we aren’t proud of: I have a temper. I am impatient. I have a critical spirit.” [kindle Loc258]

    It’s easy to settle.

    How I would love Jesus to zap me and heal me on the spot immediately. But that’s not the way it’s going to happen. I have to act, make the appointment, go to the appointment and be in the healing process for the long haul. I have to really want it – desire it.
    Likewise, in our spiritual walk – “transformation and healing always begin in a place of desire. There needs to be some deep inner willingness to take a risk on Jesus and begin again and again.” [kindle Loc232] (thank God He is patient and compassionate!)

  2. Amy Young March 14, 2017

    Every one! I’m sorry that I forgot to say we will read the next two chapters for next week 🙂

    1. Hadassah March 15, 2017

      I was just gonna write to ask you! Thanks for clearing that up!

  3. Elizabeth March 17, 2017

    I am late to starting this book, having only started it this week, and I haven’t finished the week’s reading yet, but can I say how much I love it already?? It is speaking my language — in the same way Danielle’s post at ALO did too. Sabbath and resting and getting out of the hustle and bustle are what I’m trying to do.

    As my husband always says to his pastoral counseling clients, “The Gospel is counter-cultural in every culture.” What I’m realizing more and more lately is that includes M culture!! I have to make choices that are really counter cultural to the M community in order to get Sabbath and peace. I had to quit the women’s ministry team I was on. I pulled back from writing as often for Velvet Ashes. I’m saying no right and left even when it hurts my sense of loss of belonging (you know, all those people getting together without me, even if I was invited and just said no!). Because it’s ridiculous what I thought I could do — homeschool 4 kids (full time right there), write for my blog and other blogs, lead a larger blog collective, AND do women’s and youth ministry on the side.

    I’m paring everything way down, and still I feel stretched too thin. I think that’s because I lived the entirety of 2016 maxed out like that, and in some ways I’m still recovering. There are things about my health that suffered the last half of last year too, probably because I was running too fast to take care of my temple. I’ve come to realize that self-care might need to be re-labeled worship, if we’re talking about things like taking good care of our bodies and our souls. Not binge watching netflix and eating chocolate or sweets or drinking wine, but actually taking care of ourselves. And in order to do that (and be an even semi-useful wife and mom and teacher), I have to back out of a bunch of public duties. I have to pick my yeses really carefully. And it’s still hard to do. I’m still tempted to overcommit myself.

    It also means I have to make hard but freeing choices about technology. I started getting offline and off all tech for 24 hours a week, and it’s been so good for me. I sleep Sunday afternoons the way I did before the internet invaded my life. I hang out with my kids more. I feel renewed and refreshed enough to clean the house in preparation for Monday (because when it’s a disaster Monday morning we get behind in school to try to clean it). I am a different person. And I have been writing less and less and been more and more ok with it. Not that I don’t want to write, but I want to find a better way to live first, and then write out of that. It’s what I used to do, before overseas life got so busy and complicated. Because my husband and I were always into Sabbath and rest and family time over social engagements and extra ministry (though we’ve been in ministry our entire marriage).

    Ok that got way longer than I meant it to be!! Suffice it to say I am on this journey, by trial and error, to say yes to the best things and to say no to the others. So I just really really liked the introduction of this book!

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>