Why read it?
If you want to see the big picture of the whole Bible, see the common thread running through all 66 books, see how much God loves you, see that Jesus was, is, and is to come (and not just in the New Testament), read 66 Love Letters by Larry Crabb.
Author Larry Crabb
And because I knew Larry Crabb wouldn’t disappoint. He’s one of my favorite authors. One reason is because he doesn’t avoid the hard questions. For example:
I can relate to what C.S. Lewis worried most about after his wife died. He didn’t worry, nor do I, that he was in much danger of ‘ceasing to believe’ in Your existence.
The real danger he faced was, as he put it, ‘of coming to believe such dreadful things’ about You. And then he added this clincher that I wish I didn’t understand: ‘The conclusion I dread is not: So there’s no God after all, but So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’
~ Love Letter 32, Jonah: YIELD TO MY PLAN; I WILL NOT YIELD TO YOURS
But Crabb also doesn’t leave you hanging with the questions. At least not too long. He sometimes presses through quite laboriously. I could almost subconsiouly hear, “But wait! There’s more!” as I was reading. (But that’s also how I felt with Inside Out, a great classic by Crabb that I continue to return to, as well as Men and Women: Enjoying the Difference.)
Crabb summarizes each book of the Bible as he carries on a conversation with God. For the most part, this works. However, I’m not comfortable when authors speak for God. So as you’re reading, always keep in mind that it’s really a man speaking here, not God.
With that disclaimer noted, the book is well worth reading because of its insights into each individual “love letter.” And to top it off, Crabb writes a 66-paragraph Epilogue that summarizes all the summaries. That’s my kind of author.
I read this straight through for the first reading, but for the remainder of the year, I will go back and read it one letter at a time as I reach the individual Bible book in my daily Bible reading plan. (I’ll also make use of the free Study Guide on my second reading.) This is a book I want to let soak.
(If this matters to you, it’s also a pretty book. I enjoyed the fonts. The chapter and section openings were discretely decorated. The page numbering was tastefully embellished.)
But content is king. Here are thoughts that make me pause.
* Don’t make it your goal to change bad times to good. Pray for that, of course, and do all you can to improve the world in which you live. But above all else, seek to know Me better and to represent Me well in every circumstance, no matter how you feel.
~ Love Letter 12, 2 Kings: FAILURE IS AN OPPORTUNITY, NOT A DEFEAT
* No matter what is happening to you, your worst problem is in you. And that problem is not how badly you feel, it is how poorly you love. Your failure to love Me above all else and to love others at any cost to yourself defines your unholiness.
~ Love Letter 23, Isaiah: PREPARE TO BE SLAPPED, THEN HUGGED
* Who do you know who would rather sin less than suffer less? Not many, I would guess.
~ Intro to Part 5, Hero Takes Center Stage: MATTHEW THROUGH JOHN
* You exist in my light. You don’t always walk in My light. To walk in My light requires that you pay more attention to your failure to love than to the pain you feel when others fail to love you.
~ Love Letter 62, 1 John: I WANT YOU TO KNOW THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT WHO YOU ARE
* Don’t be surprised by your failure. Be surprised, staggered by My response. Only in worship will you keep yourself in My love. Only in brokenness will you know My power to keep you from falling.
~ Love Letter 65, Jude: KEEP YOURSELF IN MY LOVE AS YOU WAIT FOR MY PARTY
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