I've recently been on a Max Lucado kick - I just can't get enough of his books these days, and luckily, my dad owns a bunch of them that I have every intention of working my way through (thanks, Dad!) My church's lending library has a pretty impressive collection of his books as well, and I haven't found one yet that I didn't love.
It all started a couple of months ago when I received a copy of Out Live Your Life. The text on the back cover was a bit grim: "These are devastating times: 1.75 billion people are desperately poor; one billion are hungry. Lonely hearts indwell our neighborhoods and attend our schools. In the midst of it all, here we stand..." The first chapter highlights more of the sad situations we're faced with every day - and is what inspired my previous post about attending an adoption conference.
But the entire book is not gloom and doom - rather, a challenge to stand up and make a difference. To care for others, to help them, to live in such a way that we make an impact that lingers long after we're gone.
Lucado focuses primarily on the book of Acts, on the faith and works of the early church and how they impacted Christianity forever. Even more, there are inspiring stories in each chapter of how normal people - people like the disciples (fishermen and tax collectors), people like you and I - have made a difference. Some of the stories are simply amazing. Being a bit of a music nerd, I was enthralled by the story in chapter 16, wherein a renowned violinist wore jeans and a t-shirt and played for forty three minutes in a Washington, D.C. metro station. A musician who packs concert halls, with only "fairly good" tickets selling for $100 per seat, made only $32.17 that morning - and only person of the 1,097 who passed by recognized him.
What does this have to with outliving your life? Well, Max explains... "No one expected majesty in such a context. Shoe-shine stand to one side, kiosk to the other. And who had time? This was a work day. Most of us will someday realize that we didn't either. From the perspective of heaven, we'll look back on these days - these busy, cluttered days - and realize, That was Jesus playing the violin. That was Jesus wearing the ragged clothes. That was Jesus in the orphanage...in the jail...in the cardboard shanty. The person needing my help was Jesus."
It's easy to make a monumental difference if you have unlimited resources. How cool would it be to hop on an airplane and fly to Africa, to help build houses and cuddle orphans and share the gospel? But I can't afford that plane ticket...and even if I could, who would watch my children while I was gone? Gene certainly couldn't take off from work for that long to watch them, or to go with me. What I can do, what most people can do, is - to some degree - limited by their personal situations.
But we can make a difference in small ways every day, and that's what this book encourages us to do. Maybe someday I'll be able to do help people in huge, amazing ways - but there's no reason not to start now, doing what I can, when I can...and hope that you do too.
Need inspiration? Encouragement? Ideas? I highly recommend Out Live Your Life - as the book's subtitle says, "you were made to make a difference", and you'll be ready to do just that by the time you finish the last chapter.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from BookSneeze in return for an honest, objective review on my blog. I honestly loved this book and am happy to have it as a permanent addition to my library - and can't wait to read the rest of Lucado's books!