It's been a year since "Greatly, Deeply" was released. This is the book mostly by Ben with some of my writing, an intro from our friend Greg, and much work from a team of editor friends. The book named after a rephrasing of an A.W. Tozer quote:
"Whom God will use greatly, he will also wound deeply,"
(which, for the record, I consider to be a rule of thumb and not a law)
It's been one year since we had the Book Release party where we served foods from the book and I threw a stack of dollar bills into the air.
One year since I released meticulously crafted promotional posters, such as:
"If you don't read 'Greatly, Deeply,' -
Someone else will."
Or the gem below:
Some awesome readers have left reviews on Amazon, but I've been a little radio silent.. Erika, my chief editor, did a stellar job with her promo post last year. But I'm a mediocre sales person and tell myself that it's a little vain to seriously push this book, toward which I'm more than a little biased. Seriously, last year when we were putting it together I told the editors: "I'll review and write new copy, but don't ask me to participate in content selection. I won't be able to narrow it down."
But no more.
Because Ben's voice has been alongside me this year in ways I did not expect. On occasion, it's sad - like when I got sick last month. Being so presently aware of the limitations of the body in those conditions and how Ben lived in that state for years brought me to tears.
But mostly, he's a guide for the difficult times. As I feel like I don't fit in anywhere, constantly homesick for something I don't think exists in this life, I read Ben's blog entries about how there really isn't a "home" for us in this world and remember that we are groaning for the redemption of the world and our bodies. And that frees me to go wherever God is at work.
When I feel alone in my path in life, I remember Ben's favorite thing about God:
"God doesn't change, but God doesn't always work the same way. That is my favorite thing about God. He wants the best for me, but He's not going to send me down the same path that someone else took to get there."
As Ben waited - for healing, for purpose in his suffering, and really, for Heaven - there's been much waiting and ever more waiting for me. And I remember how Ben learned to live in the waiting, and that despite the lack of resolution, his life, and God's work in him, was Now. It was real life. And mine is Now. Even though I'm not sure where I'll be living in four months.
I read about how Ben found hope in God. How he always professed that hope and intended that hope, but was brought to a place where he actually had to rely on that hope. How the cancer was never good, but how God used it as a tool, to shape Ben into a tool. And I try to bravely say with Ben:
"I hope at the end of my life I can look back and see where God has chosen to use me, and where I let myself be used. It seems safer to be a tool that never gets used. You'll never get chipped, or worn, or break. But to be used is exciting, dangerous, and you are serving your purpose."
What he said below sums up some of the quandary and complexity of my petitions to God these days:
"I don't know how to respond any longer to people who ask me to pray for things that will go smoothly, safely, or that some event that looks like it could be a huge thing would be nothing. I am pretty sure God uses each and every bump, ding, scratch, fender-bender, or totality to teach us more about Him. When we ask God to "please keep so and so safe..." or "Quickly heal whatshisname..." aren't we essentially asking God to make our lives easier at the price of getting to know Him better?"
So I truly throw my recommendation into the internet ring. Ben's writing is clear and accessible, and his journey was genuine. I testify to that. This book offers companionship and enlightenment into how God shapes a person through suffering.
To close, Psalm 40:9-10. Which I too often fail to follow, but not tonight.
I have told the glad news of deliverance
I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.