Review by Paula Vince
Our obsession with bigger and faster is spinning us out of control. We move through the week breathless and bustling, just trying to keep up while longing to slow down. But real life happens in the small moments, the kind we find on Tuesday, the most ordinary day of the week. Tuesday carries moments we want to hold onto--as well as ones we'd rather leave behind. It hold secrets we can't see in a hurry--secrets not just for our schedules but for our souls. It offers us a simple bench on which to sit, observe, and share our stories.
For those being pulled under by the strong current of expectation, comparison, and hurry, relief is found more in our small moments than in our fast movements.
I've enjoyed other books by this author. She has a way of thinking which is outside the box, turning worldly assumptions on their heads and showing that we often make problems where there shouldn't be any. I appreciate the sort of counsel which helps us celebrate where we are, instead of forever urging us to fix or change something. This book is all about embracing our smallness instead of deploring it by hungering for a bigger impact or reach.
We are conditioned to associate the term 'smallness' with being ignored, humiliated or unrecognised. Instead, Emily Freeman invites us to regard smallness as a blessing. Have you ever heard anyone refer to, 'the gift of obscurity'? I have, and never really got their point until reading this book. But who needs the deadlines, expectations and performance burn-out which so often goes with what we think we crave?
Will the fruit of the kingdom of God even look like success in the eyes of the world? Maybe not everyone is supposed to see much visible growth from our efforts in our lifetime. 'If you build it, they will come,' sounds like it might have been a sentiment from the Bible, but it isn't (ask the prophet Jeremiah). Freeman reminds us that the quote is, in fact, far more modern, from the movie, 'Field of Dreams.'
I was offered a new ways to think about the concept of praying for answers. So often, I've longed for clarity and definite guidance as a result of prayer, and felt disappointment when I've remained as foggy and undecided as before. It gives me a 'so much for that' type of feeling, and doesn't tempt me to pray more. This book suggests that maybe we're not even supposed to figure everything out. What if knowing that God has the birds-eye view of our lives is all we need? Maybe our obsession with building our lives into something we can figure out is just tiring. Being content with the fog is definitely a new challenge for someone like me, who loves a measure of control to gauge how things are going.
We are urged by the prophet Zechariah not to despise the day of small beginnings, and most of us assume an implication that a 'big ending' is on its way. That's not actually promised. Our endings may be small too, and we should be happy with that? Maybe being a 'blip' instead of a 'bang' is all part of the plan for an individual. But then the book challenges us further not to jump to the conclusion that what is considered small by the world is also considered small by heaven's measurement.
I felt refreshed, as I'd hoped. The overall takeaway is that a citizen of an invisible kingdom can refuse to take our behaviour cues from the visible world around us, that says to 'build, grow, measure up and rush to keep up.' It's sad that we feel we need permission to settle down to keep the pace with our small callings, but that is what this book offers.
As a bonus, I'm pleased to live in a part of the world where I can see the Milky Way clearly above me at night. So many big city dwellers in Emily Freeman's part of the world apparently can't.
Paula Vince is a South Australian author of contemporary, inspirational fiction. She lives in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, with its four distinct seasons, and loves to use her environment as settings for her stories. Her novel, 'Picking up the Pieces' won the religious fiction section of the International Book Awards in 2011, and 'Best Forgotten' was winner of the CALEB prize the same year. She is also one of the four authors of 'The Greenfield Legacy', Australia's first and only collaborated Christian novel. Her most recent novel, 'Imogen's Chance' was published April 2014. For more of Paula's reflections, please visit her blog, The Vince Review where she also interviews other authors.