Friday, September 10, 2010

Under the Overpass

Everyone put down whatever you are doing this second and run (or bike or drive or fly- really I don’t care how just as long as it’s fast) to the nearest bookstore. First off, I'm kinda a book snob. Meaning, I have high standards. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love to read, in fact, I’d probably rather read than do almost anything else. But it is not an easy task for new book to break into the tight circle of books I call my favs. This summer though, I’ve added another one to the collection. And that is why I hope all of you will stop reading and get your little behinds to the nearest bookstore after this next sentence.

The latest book to enter my exclusive group is called Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski.

In case you didn’t follow my command and need a little more convincing, I’ll go into more detail. Basically, it is incredible. It’s a true story about this guy, Mike, who decides he doesn’t want to live out his life and his faith comfortably as he’s always done. He wants to see if the reasons he believes what he believes are because of his secure upper/middle-class life he’s always known, or if his faith would change in drastically different circumstances. So, at age twenty, he and a friend, Sam, chose to become homeless, to live on the streets. They travel to six different cities over a span of five months and live as the homeless do. They sleep on the streets. They eat from garbage cans. They meet other homeless men and women. They hear stories of lives full of brokenness, darkness, and hopelessness. They share their faith. They panhandle to make money- singing songs of worship. They go to churches. They interact with other Christians. They see the how people in the church fail time and time again to “love the least of these.” They experience some of the worst days of their lives, yet the days they never want to forget. The days that changed them forever.

This book is so encouraging because I love to see that people in my generation are living out their faith so boldly. Sometimes I feel alone in this. Like there are only a handful of us really trying to run passionately after God. Yet, while this book was so hopeful, it also pushed me to be more fervent in my own life. One theme of the book, and of my life, are people claiming to be Christians, yet not really doing anything. They certainly aren’t doing anything bad, they just aren't doing… anything. I never want to be stuck in that. That cycle of being at ease where I am, avoiding the things that make uncomfortable. That terrible box that I’m so afraid to leave called my comfort zone. I’m not saying that life shouldn’t be enjoyable and relaxing, but how much better, how much more alive do we feel when we are really following Jesus wherever he leads, even if it’s something extreme, something other people totally question us for, something like living on the streets? While it’s true that God does not call us all (or most of us even, actually probably very few of us) to move to the streets like this, He does call us all to something. I have so much more to offer Him, and everyone. I am a YoungLife leader and between that and school and going to help at Sarah Moore Green, I don’t have a whole lot of time left, but it’s more than enough for God to do big things. I could be loving, giving, hoping, praying, ...doing so much more.

A quote that I love that fits in with Under the Overpass is in Crazy Love, (another one of the “inner circle” books I have- also SO incredible and life-changing, but that is a different post for a different day) Francis Chan writes, “Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers.”
And then two from Under the Overpass:
“What's your definition of a Christian? Is it broad enough to encompass the drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes, and broken people of the world? Jesus said that he came to heal the sick. Drug addicts are messed up just the same as liars are messed up, just the same as all humans are messed up. We all need Jesus. We all struggle with personal ways in which sin plays itself out in our lives.”

"As CS Lewis wrote, "Christ died for men precisely because men are not worth dying for: to make them worth it."

I would lend any of you my copy, but it has been borrowed and passed around so many times I no longer know where it is.

So really. Go get it. Now.

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