A title like Gene Edwards’ Living Close to God When You’re Not Good at It is one that will draw the attention of many Christians. Most Christians I know of, myself included, feel that they are greatly lacking when it comes to truly living close to God. As I read of the lives of our great heroes of the faith, both Biblical and post-Biblical, I see the pattern repeated. Even those who have put forward much of what encourages our faith struggled greatly with their own. It’s that battle against the flesh that entraps us until our moment of final and eternal freedom.
That very battle is the one that led Gene Edwards to actively search and fight for more. More than just a daily reading of God’s precious Word and a processing through an intercessory list. He wanted a true closeness with God. He wanted the closeness he had seen in those simplest heroes of the faith who could barely read the Bible itself, much less the myriads of books written to help us be better Christians. He wanted that intimacy.
Edwards’ search and the results of that search are found in Living Close to God When You’re Not Good at It. Edwards dramatically shares how a slow, intentional perusal through Psalm 23 allowed him to truly hear God’s application of the psalm to him personally. He then processed through how to take that slow quietness into the insanity of every workday by stopping to take even just brief seconds to remember and focus on God.
The information Edwards shared was not new to me. My own life reflects the truth that slowing down – even for a matter of ten to fifteen seconds – to focus on Christ is the key to intimacy with Him. But, Edwards’ book did remind me that I had drifted away from that practice in the busyness of life.
While Living Close to God When You’re Not Good at It was an encouragement to me, there were also a few things that frustrated me.
- Edwards states that we are told that the solution to drawing closer to God is through Bible reading and prayer, but that he believes that solution is wrong. Although he never comes out and says it, one gets the impression that daily devotional reading and intercessory prayer are bad in his opinion. While I understand his point, I think care must be taken to avoid being derogatory toward daily reading of Scripture and interceding on behalf of others, both of which are strongly presented in Scripture. While the form of interaction with God that Edwards presents is crucial, it does not create a complete picture of the life God has called us to live. Using a book to focus on one aspect of our relationship with Christ is perfectly acceptable. Leaving the impression that the other aspects of that relationship are non-essential is dangerous.
- A repeated thought in the book is that Edwards’ close interaction and fellowship with the Lord is not prayer. I do realize that we frequently misinterpret prayer to mean pouring out a list of requests to the Lord. But, that is not the Biblical representation of prayer. Scripturally, prayer is so much more. It is very broad and deep. It takes many forms, including intercession, but also including the type of intimacy that Edwards claims is not prayer. (Note: He does not have another word to attach to that level of intimacy. He simply claims that it is not prayer.)
- Edwards appears critical of the established church of any form and of the theological works we have handed down to us. While my goal is to put obedience to Christ and His Word above any traditions of my local church, denomination, or theological expertise passed down to me, I also understand that each of those are blessings that do help me to grow. Again, Edwards does not outright speak against the church or academic pursuit of theological learning, but he hints that they are faulty. Care must be taken to balance such ideas.
Something that motivated me in Edwards’ book was his use of reminders. He has plugged little things throughout his daily life to remind him to stop and focus on Christ: a red lamp, a note to himself, a flap that he has to lift before he can insert his keys and start his car. Each of these things, and others as well, remind him to take fifteen seconds to express his love to Jesus and refocus his mind in the chaos of daily life. Although my reminders will be different from those Edwards uses, I have already begun to evaluate what things can be used to trigger my memory and keep me from plowing through the day forgetting to train my mind to focus on my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This book was sent to me by WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest review.