"What are your favorite fiction books that have really impacted you?"
I stared at the email, thinking, pondering. My eyes scanned over the question again. What is a fiction book that has really impacted me? The question caught me off-guard. Impacted me? When does a book actually change your life? Aren't books for relaxing and enjoying yourself?
Ephesians 5:15-17 says, "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is."
I've heard so many times that movies are a waste of our time. Video games are a waste of our time. The internet is a waste of our time. Worrying is a waste of our time. The list goes on and on.
It seems like anything you do that fails to inform, uplift, or bring you closer to your friends/family in some way is useless and time wasting. But there's one thing that no one mentions...
As my friend threw the question at me, it got me thinking. Already God had put this thought on my heart, but now I was forced to dig deeper.
How many books have actually made a difference in my life? As I sat down to think about the question, I was shocked. I could only think of THREE books that had impacted me. Three.
I have read hundreds - maybe thousands - of books. From easy reads like Charlotte's Web to never-ending novels like The Scarlet Letter, I've spend days of my life just sitting on the couch with a book in hand. But for some reason, no one ever told me that I could be wasting my time. I was learning, right? I was learning vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and how to create my own stories. Doesn't that prove that reading is a good usage of my time?
What if those hours were wasted?
No, I can't say that reading is worthless. Books can do incredible things! Several ones in particular have pointed me towards Jesus, encouraged me, and shown me Biblical truth. They have change my life for the better. Helped me love Jesus more. Shown me areas where I could pray and ask for a heart more like His. Books also DO teach you how to become a better writer. You can gain knowledge from the authors who have gone before you! You can learn how to create unique characters and fast-paced plots. I am very thankful for my childhood of reading and pouring over written words.
But I realized that so many of the books that I have read were truly a waste of my time. They didn't change my life. They didn't point me to Jesus. They were only there to fill my time and provide entertainment.
Think of books like Little House on the Prairie. I really enjoyed those books as a young reader. They threw me into the pioneering days with Indians, covered wagons, and simple, humble people searching for a home. But did those books change my life? Other than teaching me about history, did I gain anything from reading them?
I've noticed that so many others are under the same impression. We have to read books to fit in. We don't want to be the odd ball that only reads Christian books. We want our Goodreads to constantly be updated with our newest updates. We want our peers to see all the awesome books we are reading. We want to impress them. And, after all, reading is fun!
Perhaps you haven't been convicted of this. That's fine! If this is not a struggle that you experience, I congratulate you. =) But I think that we, as Christians, should take the time to examine our books and reading life.
Are the books we read glorifying to God?Could the time we spend reading be used in a better way?Is reading becoming our idol?Is it pulling us away from the real world around us, our family, or God?Are we choosing books that will impact us and point us towards our Savior?Do the books we read show sin as being "okay" and "acceptable?"
I don't have all the answers. As I think and pray through this in my own life, I would love to start a discussion in the comments. I would be delighted if some of you would share what God has been showing you in this area. In the process, we could all get to know one another and share what He has been showing us.
Here are some discussion starters, but ultimately please share what God has put on your heart.
What is your take on reading? Is it a good usage of your time? Overall, should we be spending hours every day on this pastime?
What are your standards on books? What factors immediately make you put a book down? Have you ever been "forced" to read an ungodly book, such as for school? How do you honor God in your reading?
I encourage you to comment on one another's thoughts as well. =) This is supposed to be both fun and encouraging!