I have read a few books in the past year but none have encouraged me more than Messy Spirituality by the late Mike Yaconelli. His sense of wit and ability to word things spoke to my soul. This was a book for the Christian who struggles reconciling the tension between the flesh and the spirit. Mike’s candid transparency revealed what I could not and that spirituality, “the frustrating and difficult attempt to find God’s trail in the dusty terrain of our lives – can’t be charted easily” (p. 129). Mike relays stories from his church in Yreka, California showing that discipleship is somewhat complicated and we are often mixed in a pool of confusion wondering how to become closer to God. With clarity, Mike discusses his hesitance of people who “got it together” and offers an honest response that being a Christian means we are going to have to live in what he calls “God’s annoying love.” This book could easily be read in an afternoon but it took me a while as I allowed each words to penetrate the guarded chambers of my broken heart. One particular quote that spoke to me was his thesis for “messy spirituality”:
“Messy Spirituality is the scandalous assertion that following Christ is anything but tidy and neat, balanced and orderly. Far from it. Spirituality is complex, complicated, and perplexing-the disorderly, sloppy, chaotic look of authentic faith in the real world. Spirituality is anything but a straight line; it is a mixed-up, topsy-turvy, helter-skelter godliness that turns our lives into an upside-down toboggan ride full of unexpected turns, surprise bumps, and bone-shattering crashes. In other words, messy spirituality is the delirious consequence of a life ruined by a Jesus who will love us right into his arms” (p. 27).
There are other quotes but those need to be simmered for your perusal upon purchase of this book. Some pluses and minuses of this book:
- It was not his intention but he lacks good theology in this book. It almost seems he advocates an “anything-goes” spirit in this book. I imagine he smiles when he sees this post though and thinks, “thanks for proving my point.”
- I wanted more…I thought he could have fleshed out more practical ideas on how to solve our issues rather than live in the theoretical.
- Application of this book could lead to some dangerous contextual ramifications. Meaning: spirituality is messy but that does not mean spirituality is careless. Messiness to Mike, I think, means difficulty not apathy.
- Easy to read…not technical at all.
- Great voice for those who feel incomplete, intimidated and unqualified.
- Great lessons about living in God’s grace.
- Good humor to sustain us for the journey.
- Great lessons on biblical characters like the Samaritan Woman, Syro-Phoenician woman and Zaccheus.
- Story form approach allows the reader to place themselves in his story which means we also place ourselves in The Story!
Overall, 5 stars for this one. Recommend it to all Christians, including those who have it all figured out 😉