**I was offered this book free of charge from the author, in return for my honest opinion. All thoughts on this book are purely my own.**
I was so blessed when my dear friend, Cheryl Smith, asked me if I would be willing to read through her new book, and share a post about how it had impacted me. I have always loved her website and her precious heart for the Lord, so I was eager to read the story of how God had led her family on their journey to minimalism:
“Cheryl Smith is the author of the book “Biblical Minimalism,” the story of her family’s journey from a life of abundance to a more abundant life. She is the author of the blogs Biblical Minimalism, where she writes about minimalism from a Biblical perspective, and Homespun Devotions, where she writes devotionals and conducts “Inner Views.” She loves to spend time with her husband and son in the mountains, sing and play Bluegrass music, and write.”
I think the best proof of a truly Spirit-led book is when God brings HIS own direction into the reader’s heart, in ways that at first glance might not seem such an obvious parallel. In fact, as I began reading Cheryl’s book, I heard the Lord ask me to be open to HIS leading, even if it seemed odd to my own way of thinking.
Sure enough, I had barely begun reading, when the title of Chapter 3 jumped out at me. “Lovest Thou Me?” and it’s accompanying verse:
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, “Simon, Son of Jonas, Lovest thou Me, more than these?”John 21:15
And immediately, I was thrust back in time, to my childhood. My eyes were fixed and my face was glowing rapturously as the small woman walked up to the platform and began her solo. I knew the song–it was one of her favorites, and mine as well, whenever she sang it. Her pure soprano voice carried the question deep into my little-girl’s heart, and it felt as if Jesus, Himself, was asking the question. I loved the swelling in my heart as the song rose to its finale, OH! Yes, I love thee more than all of these, my Lord!
Only, something different happened as I read further into my friend’s book, and listened to her share the journey that the Lord had asked of her family. He wanted them to lay down their material possessions, to begin to live a life of minimalism, but not for the faddish way of the culture. NO, He was asking them to loosen their hold upon the very things of this world that they were surrounded with.
My husband and I have walked through that path a few times as the Lord asked us to follow Him in cross-country moves. But this time, I heard the chorus of that song, asking me, “Lovest thou me, more than wealth, more than fame, more than the world?” and the words had shifted so slightly to become, “Lovest thou me, more than health, more than your days, more than this world?” I wanted to answer yes, but as the night wore on, I knew the honest answer.
“No, Lord, I do not love thee. I have no love within me, in fact.” And the enemy jumped into the battle to shout his condemnation there too. It was a very long night.
But when the light of morning dawned, Jesus took me further into that conversation with Peter, as Peter’s heart was grieved that Jesus had to ask that question three times. Jesus uncovers the doubt in our hearts. But He also wants to uncover the truth that He himself has planted in our hearts.
And I knew the answer that Jesus was uncovering in my own heart. I can only love because HE has first loved me. I can only love HIM, as I offer back up to Him the love He has given to me.
We love because he first loved us.1 John 4:19 NIV
I realized then that my friend’s book was going to challenge my heart to open to Him in deeper ways.
Even as the Lord asked my friend to look into the deep reasons for her clinging to worldly items, I heard the Lord asking me to look more deeply into my own clinging onto the ways I thought my health should be. And it was about half-way through the book that this quote stopped me in my tracks:
Biblical minimalism is not just about letting go of our physical belongings. It is all-encompassing to the point of striping away every source of excess . . . It means getting down to the bare bones of trusting God to supply all our needs. It means releasing anything in our lives that cause us to live under extreme stress.Biblical Minimalism, Cheryl Smith, page 111.
And I knew the reason why God had allowed me to be part of my friend’s book review team. My bones and my body have carried the excessive stress of this illness and many failed treatments as my own responsibility. Again and again I have heard His call to release the burden, that my health is NOT my responsibility.
But when the world screams at you, when every health-care supplement begs you to take your health into your own hands, the still, small voice of the Lord can be easily put aside. And so the convictions rolled deeply across the pages into my heart. ONLY God can bear the weight of this chronic illness journey. I have lived too long as if I am in debt to my chronic illnesses. Even the terms that I use to speak of it:
- This disease is a hard task-master
- I will pay for this activity later
- I live under the weight of what this illness will require next
But Jesus has spoken a different life for me, because I have been bought by HIM. He has paid all of my debts and I am no longer my own.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV
Through all of these years with these multiple diseases, it has always been the Lord who has directed my steps, and led me to different Doctors, different treatments, all for HIS own purposes, not my own. Where I have taken responsibility and tried to pay off this debt, He wants me to know that it has already been paid in full.
I may not find full healing while on this earth. The treatments ahead may or may not be immediately effective. But I WILL find full healing at the feet of Jesus. Whether He brings it here, or in Heaven, He is asking now for my FULL trust of His care over me.
To purchase the book by my friend Cheryl Smith, click HERE. If you are interested in practical tips and Scriptural reasons for living a life that is more minimal and eternity focused, I highly recommend Cheryl’s story for you. And if you do pick up her book, I pray that you will allow the Holy Spirit to direct you in His own path, even as He took me down the path that He had chosen for me.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. . . . You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”Isaiah 55:8-9, 12 NIV