I get a lot of Christian books to read and review. I get a lot of theology (more now that I’ve joined the IVP book club). Keri Wyatt Kent’s book was a welcome, refreshing change of pace for me, that is certain.
That is not to say that the book is spiritually shallow — far, far from it. This is, in fact, the kind of book I wish more people were writing, and more people were reading. The book is a pure devotional/spiritual discipline type of book, meant for reading and contemplating over a long period of time. In fact, Kent often encourages the reader to take their time, and the book is easily digested over a period of 40 days.
Each daily devotional study ends with a “Presence Practice” that encourages the reader to reflect on what was studied, and to put that day’s study into practice. This isn’t a simple question and answer thing that just asks you to repeat what you read. These reflections ask you to DO things, even if it’s just reading, and they challenge you to really think about how that day’s study impacts the way you are walking with Christ each day, and how you can change to grow closer to Him.
My own observance of Lent tends to be nontraditional, to say the least. As a Baptist, I really don’t have a liturgy to follow. In the past, the idea of giving something up for Lent has left me hollow — I either gave up something I needed to get rid of anyway (which seemed like cheating), or I gave up something and ended up being resentful for not being able to do it after just two weeks (sometimes not that long). One thing I have determined to do, though, is to try to focus my devotional time each Lent and Advent on something that strikes at the heart of the season. For Advent, it is the idea of anticipation and longing. For Lent, it is usually the idea of redemption. When I received Deeply Loved, however, I saw the opportunity to immerse myself in the love of Christ revealed in His sacrifice for us. Deeply Loved is a great book to use as a devotional during Lent, but it’s not bound to that time of year the way so many Lenten devotions are. You can pick this book up at any time in the year, set aside 40 days, and study. In fact, I will probably be picking Deeply Loved up again this winter and using it as part of my Advent preparation.
Each study is not that long; it can be read in no time at all, even if you don’t read quickly. But if you pay attention to what you are reading, and are really taking the time to think about what Kent is saying, what you read each day will stay with you. You will find yourself in situations where your morning devotional reading will pop back into your mind. You will find yourself growing closer to Christ, and appreciating His love for us even more.
That is, after all, the purpose of a devotional book. This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. This is where all the theology and doctrine we learn and read about is made valuable — when we put it into practice in the service of the King.
I end up packing a lot of my review copies up in boxes after I finish them; I just don’t have the shelf space for all the books I have (835 books, according to LibraryThing, and 227 review copies). I won’t be packing this one up any time soon, though. This book will be used over and over again. Highly recommended.