So Many Books

“Pass the time?” said the Queen.  “Books are not about passing the time.  They’re about other lives.  Other worlds.  Far from wanting time to pass, Sir Kevin, one just wishes one had more of it.  If one wanted to pass the time one could go to New Zealand.”

The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett, p. 29

Never Abandoned

I don’t know how it matters; I only know that it does, that when we suffer, God suffers, and he will never abandon the smallest fragment of his creation. . . .  He will not give up on me, not now, not after my mortal death.  He will not give up on any of us, until we have become what he meant us to be.

— Madeleine L’Engle, A Severed Wasp, quoted by Carole F. Chase in Glimpses of Grace, p. 158

Forgiveness and Repentance

Repentance is important, even indispensable, and it is indispensable because forgiveness is an event between people, not just an individual’s change of feelings, attitudes, or actions.  Instead of being a condition of forgiveness, however, repentance is its necessary consequence.

If they imitate the forgiving God, forgivers will keep forgiving, whether the offenders repent or not.  Forgivers’ forgiving is not conditioned by repentance.  The offenders’ being forgiven, however, is conditioned by repentance — just as being given a box of chocolate is conditioned by receiving that box of chocolate.  Without repentance, the forgivers will keep forgiving but the offenders will remain unforgiven, in that they are untouched by that forgiveness.

Why?  Because they refuse to be forgiven. . . .  Unrepentant offenders implicitly say:  It’s wrong for you to forgive me; I’ve done you no wrong.  Or more brazenly, they say:  I don’t care if you forgive or not, because I don’t care whether I’ve wronged you or not.  Mostly, however, they say:  I am too ashamed of the wrongdoing I’ve committed to repent, too afraid of the consequences that may befall me.  In all three cases, forgiveness is rejected. . . .

That it is difficult to repent genuinely will not come as a surprise to those who have pondered the gravity and power of human sin.  One of sin’s most notable features is that it unfailingly refuses to acknowledge itself as sin.  We usually not only refuse to admit the wrongdoing and to accept guilt, but seem neither to detest the sin committed nor feel very sorry about it.  Instead, we hide our sin behind multiple walls of denial, cover-up, mitigating explanations, and claims to comparative innocence.

The accusations of others reinforce our propensity to hide sin.  We usually do all we can to justify ourselves, and that reaction is understandable.  We fear the consequences of sin.  We may lose a good reputation or be punished.  We cannot bear to face ourselves as wrongdoers.  We fear that the integrity of our very selves might crumble under the weight of our offense.  That’s why we are often able to repent only when we are assured that our guilt will be lifted and charges will not be pressed against us.  In other words, we are able to genuinely repent only when forgiveness has first been extended to us. . . .

Forgiveness does not cause repentance, but it does help make repentance possible.

— Miroslav Volf, Free of Charge, p. 183-186


Briefing is not reading.  In fact it is the antithesis of reading.  Briefing is terse, factual, and to the point.  Reading is untidy, discursive and perpetually inviting.  Briefing closes down a subject, reading opens it up.

— Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader, p. 21-22

Positive Intention

The good news is that as we connect to our positive intention, we begin to find forgiveness.  Forgiveness is the compassion we experience as we remind ourselves that by driving a car — having a relationship — we run the risk of a breakdown.  Forgiveness is the power we get as we assert that we have a deep well of resilience to draw upon.  Forgiveness is the grace that helps us remember to look around while we’re on the side of the road and appreciate our beautiful surroundings and the people we love.  To help forgiveness emerge, we can learn to see ourselves from the point of view of our positive intention, not primarily as a wounded or rejected lover.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Love, p. 190

Sacred Romance

Indeed, if we will listen, a Sacred Romance calls to us through our heart every moment of our lives.  It whispers to us on the wind, invites us through the laughter of good friends, reaches out to us through the touch of someone we love.  We’ve heard it in our favorite music, sensed it at the birth of our first child, been drawn to it while watching the shimmer of a sunset on the ocean.  The Romance is even present in times of great personal suffering:  the illness of a child, the loss of a marriage, the death of a friend.  Something calls to us through experiences like these and rouses an inconsolable longing deep within our heart, wakening in us a yearning for intimacy, beauty, and adventure.

— John Eldredge, The Sacred Romance, p. 6-7

The Future Is Always Available.

The past is irreparable; the future is always available.  In every case, when good dreams shatter, better ones are there to newly value and pursue. . . .

No matter what happens in life, a wonderful dream is available, always, that if pursued will generate an unfamiliar, radically new internal experience.  That experience, strange at first, will eventually be recognized as joy.

— Larry Crabb, Shattered Dreams, p. 53-54

Failure and Integrity

When teenagers let themselves fall short by failing to hold onto their integrity, they simultaneously have a tremendous opportunity to reaffirm themselves and their integrity.  That is, without failures, they do not learn how valuable their integrity is to their well-being.  And this is the ultimate paradox of successfully raising teenagers:  They need to experience a bunch of failures along the way to adulthood.  And how we handle their failures and how we teach them to address these missteps is crucial.

— Michael Riera, PhD, Staying Connected to Your Teenager, p. 155

God’s Timetable

Did you realize that time could possibly be the stander’s greatest obstacle?  Charlyne could report, “Bob delivered hurricane supplies across the state today,” and be correct.  What she did not tell you was that it was a six-hour trip.  I encountered heavy traffic, post-hurricane congestion, rude drivers, and so much more.  The Bible is exactly like that.  We are told of an event, and assume it happened all at once, when in truth decades passed.  May we each learn that God’s timetable is far different from our timetable.

— Robert E. Steinkamp, The Prodigal’s Pen, p. 170