Book Review: God in My Everything
Author: Ken Shigematsu
Publisher: Zondervan ISBN: 9782310499251
This was a good a book, just the reading of it alone inspired reflection and self-examination. This is good, but it is also difficult. The positive side is that self-examination helps me to get perspective on where I am at this juncture of my life—the not-so-positive aspect comes in the realization of what I need to do in order to get to where I want to be…since, of course, I’ve not arrived at my destination just yet.
My destination is not so much a place as it is an awareness and attitude for living—and this, in the attentive, surrendered, and obedient presence of God—this is God in My Everything. Jesus expressed the first and greatest commandment is “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” (Mark 12:30). Engaging a personal rule of life is a step in the right direction for engaging and enjoying God in My Everything. Ken Shigematsu helps his reader understand the nature and the dynamic of a personal rule of life; he or she can assess their life circumstances, understand their personality or nature, and construct a rule that can help them to engage practices, exercises, and disciplines designed bring them closer in relationship with God.
I believe Ken has done an excellent and thorough job of describing a personal rule of life as well as helping the reader to understand the connection between the practical and the spiritual aspects of the rule. In chapter one, he explains the origin of the spiritual rule of life hearkens back to Benedict of Nursia (480-547). Ken also points out that while Benedict developed his rule for those entering the monastic community, one does not have to be or become a monk to employ a rule of life. Truthfully, we all employ a rule of life in some form whether we are consciously aware of our rule or not. Ken suggests practicing intentionality with our rule, becoming aware of the “rule” we already employ and identifying the practices we may need to engage in order for our life to be centered upon the presence, both in-working and out-working, of God in our lives.
The method that Ken teaches for developing a rule of life involves the metaphor of a trellis. He begins with a foundation he designates as roots, which includes practices such as Sabbath, Prayer, and Sacred Reading. The trellis of his rule continues with relate (relationships) and includes the dynamic of Spiritual Friendships, Sexuality, and Family Life. Continuing the rule, Shigematsu adds restore with attention to habits such as Care for the Body, Play, and Money. The last tier of his trellis is reach out, adding Work, Justice, and Witness to round out and complete his rule. At first glance, this can be a rather complex latticework for a personal rule of life; however, Shigematsu is quick to point out that his personal rule is not necessarily the optimal rule for everyone, but it can serve as a template. This is important, as a personal rule of life should not introduce stress or guilt to a person’s journey with God. The rule should be dynamic… organic, flexible, and life giving. Ken spends the remainder of the book, the next ten chapters, going over and through each of these elements in greater detail. He uses personal experience and anecdotes from others to engage the reader and offer practical insight for using the disciplines in the rule as well as showing how those disciplines and exercises can facilitate engaging and enjoying God and His plan for our lives.
Closing out each chapter, Ken includes a list of questions for reflection and discussion. He also includes a worksheet for drafting out ideas that can be employed in the crafting of your own personal rule. Finally, he includes a helpful appendix section at the end of the book with several examples of actual personal rules of life that can be used as guidelines for your own use. These examples are very diverse and helpful to show how a personal rule of life can be adjusted to fit the unique personality of the individual for which it is created. The book is well annotated with references that can guide the reader to further study and reading, if he or she desires.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Cross Focused Reviews to read and post a review on my site. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”