Monday, June 8, 2015

Looking for God by Nancy Ortberg

Do we sometimes think we can meet God only in our morning devotions? During a very busy time for Ortberg, with two toddlers and another on the way, she experienced God talking to her on a park bench. She began to pay attention and had times of communication with God at other times and places.

She encourages us to have a broader view of communication with God. From morning to night we have a variety of ways to connect with God. She shares many of her experiences. One involved the power of gratitude. Another was revealed in community work. “...[E]veryday I go to work I have an opportunity to copartner with God in what He is doing in this world.” (56) She writes about being salt and light, but also about missed opportunities. “Sometimes we find God in our failures.” (108) She shares her experiences with people, at places, even with weather, and especially during difficult times. “”...[F]or most of my life, I have met God most deeply in the middle of hard stuff.” (152)

While Ortberg helps us understand we can experience God in unusual places, she also warns us about thinking we are experiencing God when we are not. She tells of being a speaker at a youth event. There was energetic worship in the evening and in the morning many were talking about how great the worship was. Ortberg had a different take on the experience. “'When the day comes that this community has the same amount of energy, enthusiasm, and responsiveness for the poor, the marginalized, and those far away from God and each other, then I will believe that what I witnesses last night was worship,' she told them. 'Until then, I think what we saw last night was a compartmentalized emotional catharsis, which while it might have been enjoyable, was not worship in any sense of the word.' Worship is a whole life response to God. It is not just about singing...” (172) Ouch. She does a great job of distinguishing real worship and faking it – just worshiping on the outside.

This is not an earth shaking book but it is a good reminder that we are to be aware of God's presence every moment of every day. If we are looking for Him, we will find Him in many places and circumstances and our interaction with Him will be more continuous.

Nancy Ortberg served as teaching pastor for eight years at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. During that time she led the Network and Axis ministries. She is a founding partner of Teamworx2, a consulting firm and is the director of leadership development at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. She and her husband live in the Bay Area.

Tyndale House Publishers, 188 pages.
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