Takeaway: God Loves you personally.
I understand why Max Lucado is such a popular author. He is a great story teller. He wraps up good lessons in humorous stories and retells scripture in modern versions that help the reader to think about them in a new way. Lucado does what a good Christian author should do, gets us to think about God and and spiritual matters as part of daily life and not just as a portion of life.
I am not really sure whether this was a free promotion or if someone that shares my audible account purchased this. I know I have had it for a while and just never listened to it. It is a short books (really short if you have the abridged audiobook). Still it feels a bit meandering (the positive version of the word, like walking on a wooded path). Lucado keeps walking around the subject and taking different approaches. The basic point is that God knows you as an individual. That we feel want and desire because we long for God and that want and desire will never fully be satisfied short of Christ’s return. It is a good message, one that I think that many people need to hear and to respond to concretely.
My frustration is summed up in his chapter on heaven. He says that we will never be truly happy here on earth because we were made for heaven. This seems to be a false choice. Referencing the Old Testament, he suggests that we marrying the Babylonians and trying to live in this world is some how less than what we should be doing. But marrying and living life seems to actually be the point of Jeremiah 29. Jeremiah decries the false prophets that say that the Israelites should look for God to miraculously save them, instead they should “pray for the city…give and take their children in marriage…plant and harvest…” He mostly saves the chapter by saying that it is only in God that we can be truly happy. I agree with that, but God has given us roles and places in this life. This life is not less because heaven is out there, this life is less because sin corrupts our world. Heaven is not about just about giving us joyful eternity, but about restoring this world as it was intended to be.
Lucado and I have a theological difference on heaven and that difference colors a lot of the way that he and I would approach many other non-heaven topics. But I do think that the message that God loves us personally and that our desire should be primarily for God is the essential message of the Gospel. So whatever the minor differences in theology that we have, I can affirm that the gospel is being shared in this book.
If you like your theology taught with lots of stories (and I do) you should try reading some Max Lucado. Lucado is frequently charged with being a theological lightweight. And this is not a theologically deep book. But I think the charge is misplaced. Some people are gifted communicators to a particular type of people. Lucado’s gift is taking the deeper things of faith and making them easy to understand. He simplifies instead of complicates. This is a really an under-appreciated gift, one that should be celebrated and not scorned. The complications are important, we have other pastors and theologians to help us think about the complicated things of the faith. We have pastors and theologians and writers like Max Lucado to help us boil down and simplify. We need both.