The book is also filled with encouraging and heartwarming stories. Some from the Bible and some from those today. I loved the honesty and straightforwardness of this book.
It's based on the story of the woman at the well and how Jesus told her that He was the living water she needed to fill her life. One extraordinary thing about this story is that Jesus is the one who comes to her and reveals himself. I love what Mark Hall says here:
"You have never slipped God's mind. Even if you haven't thought about him since the last time you walked through a church door, he has been walking with you, watching you, talking to you. And God has been trying his best to catch your eye because he pursues you. God doesn't pursue your country. He doesn't pursue your state or your town or even your church. He pursues you, just as he did the woman at the well."
In the chapter on the hole of approval, Mark talks of visiting a retreat center for girls with eating disorders with a good friend of his named Tony Nolan. After they had sung "Voice of Truth" Tony got up to speak. He says here:
"When Tony rose to teach, he took his cue from the last song. He concentrated on God's voice of truth and within seconds provided a simple but profound line I can't get out of my head. 'What's true about you,' Tony said with a gentle smile to the girls, 'is what God says about you."
This really spoke to me as well. The hole of approval is probably the hole I struggle with the most. I am a very quiet person. I don't speak well. I enjoy being at home. I like my alone time. I don't need to be around people all the time, but I constantly worry about what people think of me because of it. When I read this it meant so much to me. "What's true about me, is what God says about me." Not what others think or say about me. Mark shares some things God says about his children:
God says that we are:
-reconciled to God as new creations (2Corinthians 5:17-18)
-forgiven and restored children of God (John 1:12)
-citizens of God's kingdom (Colossians 1:13-14)
-in Christ forever and already seated with Him in heaven (Ephesians 2:4-7)
-saints- yes, you are a saint (1 Corinthians 1:1-3)
-God's masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10)
-God's ambassadors who represent him (2 Corinthians 5:20)
-the actual righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21)
-his chosen, adopted precious ones (Ephesians 1:3-6)
-partakers of the divine nature (2Peter 1:2-4)
In the chapter on the hole of talent, Mark shares a little about his life and struggles. One scene brought back memories for me. A big man, in overalls, came up to him before a service and told him he wanted to sing before the sermon because the Lord had given him a song. Mark remembers thinking:
"You've got to be kidding. First of all, we already have our order of service...I don't know if you can sing. You don't just walk up and decide to sing. We singers are trained to do this kind of thing."
When Mark realized the guy was quite a bit bigger then him, he gave in and let him sing.
The man sang "His Eye is on the Sparrow"
"I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free,
For his eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me."
Mark says he doesn't remember if one note was sung in tune, but the whole place was in tears as the Holy Spirit spoke through that big man in the overalls.
Mark said God spoke to him then and said:
"Mark, it's not going to be your voice that reaches people. It's going to be your heart."
This story reminded me of a woman at our church when I was growing up. She had a strong Asian accent and her singing voice left something to be desired. But when she did sing, her love for God shone through her. I still remember one Christmas she sang "Oh Holy Night" and when she got to..."fall on your knees; oh hear the angels voices"...She fell to her knees and worshiped God through her song. I still get teary eyed when I think about her small humble act that night.
Mark goes on to say later that identity is not in our talents, but:
"Your talent is a tool. your career, hobbies, and achievements are what you do.
Your identity is as a child of God. It's who you are."
This was such a great book. I love Mark Hall's desire to glorify God and share what God has put on his heart. Hope you get a chance to read this one. It will challenge and bless you.
Here's the beautiful song from Casting Crowns called The Well: