If you’re not too busy in our sped-up world, you’re probably dead. It seems like nearly everyone has more demands on their time than they have time to fulfill those demands. Christians, whose relationship with Christ is more important than anything else, still struggle to devote time to the spiritual side of life.
With God in my Everything: How an Ancient Rhythm Helps Busy People Enjoy God, Ken Shigematsu has written a book for all those Christians who feel, as Bilbo Baggins said in The Lord of the Rings, “like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.” I first heard of Shigematsu when I was attending Regent College several years ago. He was, and is, pastor of a church that was very popular among Regent students, Tenth Avenue Alliance Church (or as it is usually called, Tenth Church). I never attended a service at Tenth, but he did come to speak at Regent in my Introduction to Preaching class once. I could see why his preaching spoke to so many people: he has a great sense of humor, but he also gives the sense of having a deep, relaxed, and authentic friendship with Christ.
In this book, Shigematsu attempts to convince stressed-out people that the solution to their harried existence lies in monasticism—not by giving up everything and joining a monastery, but by living according to a rule of life. In a rule of life, instead of letting life happen to us and rushing from one emergency to another, we prioritize the things we regard as important and make time to do them. Throughout the book, Shigematsu uses the image of a trellis: something you construct deliberately, on which the rest of life can grow and be supported.
The book comes in five parts. Like a good preacher, Shigematsu has made sure their titles all begin with the same letter. The first, “Rules,” explains the concept of a rule of life. In the second, called “Roots,” Shigematsu introduces readers to three foundational aspects of a rule of life: sabbath, prayer, and sacred Bible reading. The third, “Relate,” shows how a rule of life can be crafted in our friendships, sexual lives, and family. The fourth, “Restore,” looks at the rule of life in the areas of exercise, play, and money. Finally, “Reach Out” looks at the rule of life with respect to work, service, and sharing Christ with others.
Throughout, Shigematsu masterfully moves the reader along by using stories from his life and others to illustrate various points. He also stresses application of the lessons of the book in readers’ lives. Each chapter ends with discussion/reflection questions, and there are also spaces for the reader to craft his or her own rule of life. One very helpful aspect of the book was the inclusion at the end of example rules of life from people who are in various stages of life. While the idea of a rule of life was not new to me, I very much appreciate the way Shigematsu was able to make it relevant to a wide variety of people. I highly recommend this book, especially to busy people. And who, besides dead people, isn’t busy these days?
Note: Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.