Book Review: Invitations from God
Author: Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
Publisher: InterVarsity Press ISBN: 9780830835539
I love this book!
I was introduced to the writing of Adele Ahlberg Calhoun around three years ago when I was teaching classes in spiritual formation. I used her book Spiritual Disciplines Handbook for some of research and preparation for my own teaching. I loved the format of the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook and was grateful for the expansive breadth of range and coverage of disciplines that were listed in it. I was left a little bit wanting because of the lack of detail and depth, but realize that was not the intended purpose of the book. I mention these points because I feel that where the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook left off, Invitations from God picked up.
For the sake of clarification, Invitations from God is not specifically geared toward the spiritual disciplines, although there are some “invitations” that are usually considered as primary disciplines for spiritual formation (eg., Rest, Pray, Love). What I have received as understanding about Invitations from God is more inclusive of practicing the overall surrender and awareness to the presence and working of God in every moment of life. This reminder has been the greatest gift from this book for me.
I’ve enjoyed each and every chapter of this book and marveled at some of the delicate yet deep word pictures crafted by this author. Each topic has sent me on an adventure of reflection and helped me to be more consciously aware of the great many invitations that are offered to me during the course of a single day…every day. And this is the test; we are given hundreds and thousands of invitations each day, some solid, shocking, and life-changing… others are more sublime in the form of a fleeting thought or brief daydream. The point being with each of these invitations we decide whether we follow God or whether we pursue a distraction that leads in a direction other than God. Sometimes it is not so easy to distinguish which invitation leads us to or detracts us from, but focusing on exercises shared in Invitations we are better prepared for that discernment.
Each chapter opens with a table (similar to the tables found in Spiritual Disciplines Handbook) that lists a summary description for the particular invitation that is discussed. For example, the invitation to participate in your own healing is an invitation to cooperate with the Trinity in my growth, healing and emotional maturity. Continuing through the table, there are corresponding Scripture references, potential roadblocks, points of awareness, and specific practices or exercises that can be employed to aid growth and maturity in identified area (ie., invitation). Calhoun provides these tables for each invitation; I found them invaluable and plan to use them in my own teaching and retreat settings.
I have nothing but good to report for this book with one exception; I only wish it weren’t so long in coming behind the last book. My hope is that Adele Calhoun will continue to share her wisdom through her gift of writing in a timelier manner. Thank you, Adele, for this edition and the reminder of the many invitations from our God. Please don’t make us wait for six years again.