This is my week of book reviews, right? Well, here’s one more, this time about Jen Hatmaker and Interrupted.
I started with fiction (Running the Rift), then switched to non-fiction (The Insanity of Obedience), then back to fiction (with some classic Ted Dekker), and now I’m rounding it all out with another non-fiction book (in case you weren’t wrecked enough by the other ;-)).
About six months before we moved to Nicaragua, I read Jen Hatmaker’s 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. It was the perfect book to help me clear out the ridiculous excess that lined closets, drawers, shelves, and any other fillable spots throughout our house, in preparation for moving abroad. [As an aside, I wrote about that purging process a few years back but will be reviewing those posts over the coming week in honor of my parents’ upcoming big life-change, whereby they are moving out of their home state for the first time in over 60 years! Yowzers!]
Now, as we stand on the precipice of another big move ourselves (this time back to the US), I found it quite relevant to read another of Jen’s books: Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity. Here’s part of the official description from Amazon:
Interrupted follows the author’s messy journey through life and church and into living on mission. Snatching Jen from the grip of her consumer life, God began asking her questions like, “What is really the point of My Church? What have I really asked of you?” She was far too busy doing church than being church, even as a pastor’s wife, an author of five Christian books, and a committed believer for 26 years. She discovered she had missed the point.
Jen Hatmaker and Interrupted
You want to know what most struck me about Jen Hatmaker and her Interrupted journey? Probably the way it ironically has mirrored my own. I married into a multi-generational Christian family that had started missions projects in three countries on two different continents. A little over a decade later, my husband and I left our home church to help plant a new one in a neighboring community. And if that wasn’t churchy-enough for you, we became foster parents and hosted 17 kids over the course of five years.
Given all of that, I thought I was doing the whole Church thing pretty well… until a few years ago when God wrecked my idea of that comfortable Christian life. I recall the first time I was asked what lesson God was teaching me as He brought me further outside my comfort zone (and eventually into Nicaragua). My answer came so quickly it surprised me: the depth of my selfishness.
As Jen warns her reader in Interrupted, “This is no expert’s account, only the words of a fumbling searcher who got so much wrong before she got virtually anything right. I’ve never been more aware of my own poverty, foolishness, ignorance, and arrogance. As I get older, I realize I know less about the mysteries of God and more about my own tomfoolery.”
“Selfish?” my friends would respond with surprise, “You are a hero taking those kids into your home. I couldn’t do that. How could that be selfish even a tiny bit?”
Yeah, well, you couldn’t see into the scary-ugly parts of my heart because I covered those up with whatever do-good works I could find.
“God is supremely concerned about our motives,” Jen quips, “and our works count only when they match our intentions. There is no back door into salvation, rerouted around the sacrifice of Christ. Otherwise, the whole earth could gain heaven by good works, and His day on the cross would be pointless.”
My motives were rooted more in my must-earn-my-way-to-success-and-heaven-too heart than anything else. I grew up in a theology that focused a lot on being “good enough,” so I was constantly trying to measure up. Gotta live by those Ten Commandments. And when I don’t? Gotta make amends until I was forgiven. But what about Jesus saying we commit murder in our hearts simply by being angry with someone else? (Matthew 5:21-22) Oh God, how can I ever measure up?
Therein lies the problem that I eventually came face-to-face: I will never be good enough.
The thing is… God let Jesus pay the price so I don’t have to be! Why did it take me so so long to truly really wrap my head around this simple, yet game-changing statement?
If I tell you I’ve spent the past few years learning just what a mess I am, I must immediately follow that up by explaining what else I’m learning: just how big God is to take care of my mess.
Interrupted is Jen’s story of recognizing her mess, accepting the infinite greatness of God’s grace, and then stepping out in utter obedience to whatever God has planned. It is the tale of how God redirected her path from working to somehow earn that grace, to freely accepting the gift of it, and then “to live on mission as an adopted daughter of Jesus.” Because, as she wrote, “There is a horrid beauty in following God slightly blind. The victory later is sweeter, the prize more valuable than breath.”
I suspect a lot of us have a similar story. Mine brought me to a foreign culture to teach me (among other things) about living in the one of my birth. What’s yours?
Note: This post is part of a “blog hop,” where lots of bloggers are writing about Jen’s book. Check out the other posts here: