Life and Ministry as a Human Being
“I hope you will soon see that I am writing to you as one who feels profoundly rescued from himself by the abounding grace of Jesus. But the stale waters of celebrity, consumerism, and immediate gratification had infiltrated my drinking water, and I did not realise it. I fear a lot of us don’t.
What I also did not know then was that my wife of fifteen years would suddenly walk away from Jesus and from me.
So, when I dreamt of…becoming exceptional for Jesus, I would never have imagined that my future would require me to learn to be a single dad with primary care of my kids amid a community of “scandal” and taking a long hard look in the mirror. Being declared “innocent in the matter” wouldn’t remove the whispers of the slanders both in the community and in my own head. Neither did these remove what it meant for each of my three children and me to daily learn together to see the sun again and smile.”
Sensing Jesus is staggeringly good. It really is. It is probably best described as an introspective guide to human limitation, and the arrogance-conquering effect a right appreciation of this brings. Eswine writes poetically, wisely and winsomely on a plethora of practical issues that deeply stirs.
“Honest” does not do it justice. The reader is openly invited to examine Eswine’s life with unfeigned transparency. Indeed, his very heart is exhibited in all its gruesome glory. This is almost therapeutic; the more he insists on earnestness, the more one is drawn in by a desire to match him. Eswine has risked self-pity by printing his often very sad experiences, but succeeds in masterfully evading it.
“Grounded” does not do it justice. Sensing Jesus schooled me in how to look at what is in front of one’s face. “…we touch our desks and graciously proclaim “Immanuel”; God is with us”. He shreds the (bizarre, when one gives it a moment’s reflection) notion of an abstract Jesus, and promotes an earthy living out of the gospel in quiet obedience. He does this through repeatedly slapping the reader in the face with their own embodiedness. Ministry requires seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting. Slap though it is, it is delivered ever gently and gracefully. This is essential, as Sensing Jesus is an uncomfortable read. Eswine is gifted almost uniquely to write down with piercing and heartfelt honesty exactly what each of us experiences in areas that we would not have the guts to touch. That he does so anyway is admirable in the strongest possible sense. This is a man who cares for God’s glory, not being thought well of by people.
I felt broken against the purity of the Christian walk that Eswine envisions. Chuckling, I would grimace as I saw myself in page after page. I felt compelled to confront my ambition, arrogance and pride and present it to God’s holy light to be burned, and that genuinely changed me.
For those with faces set towards full-time paid ministry, this is the best book that I could recommend.