I love books. I love the feel, the smell, the creativity, the emotions, and the way they continue to make your brain tick for days, even weeks after reading them. If you know me at all, this is not new information. I love to read, and a bookstore gift card makes me insanely excited. (And a little nervous, because how do I choose?)
That being said, I have read a lot. So when a book comes along that really jumps out at me, I can’t help but share its message, especially if that message leads people to Jesus. I was fortunate enough to be selected for the Love Lives Here launch team, and this was one I could really get behind. I read Love Does by Bob Goff two years ago, and it was such an encouragement to love others as Jesus did. To say YES! when it’s scary and to take chances for the Kingdom. He spoke so highly of his wife, “Sweet Maria”, that I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of lady she was. What kind of life did she lead to be deemed “Sweet Maria”? And then she wrote a book.
Maria Goff’s Love Lives Here is another book that makes me want to be more adventurous and live my life in a way that more closely reflects Jesus’ time on earth. She addresses fear and letting go of past mistakes, encouraging the reader to fall in love with Jesus on a deeper level. As she writes, “We don’t need a plan to be us, and we don’t need permission either; we just need to begin”. God has already called us to go in Matthew 28:19-20, otherwise known as the Great Commission. We already have permission. For someone like me, who relates more with Martha than Mary (responsibilities, check off lists, rule-following, etc.), I am hesitant and feel my heels digging in a little when I hear “adventure”, but I love Maria’s reassurance in her words. “I grew up seeing adventure and responsibility as two ideas in disagreement with each other; but I’ve come to realize they don’t just coexist, they actually complement each other.” Maria’s husband, Bob, enjoys a life with boats, jeeps, world travel, and a lot of YES!, so I can only imagine she’s learned to adapt, and along the way, experienced life as a Christian in another light.
In, Love Lives Here, Maria Goff recounts family trips to war-torn countries and the fear she felt for her life and her family. She speaks a lot on fear and allowing God to help us overcome it. “Fear delights in our attempts to avoid or ignore it. The antidote that gives us the buoyancy to rise above our fear is found in love and hope and the kind of peace we don’t try to manufacture but experience in courageous gratitude”. (I told you- it’s good stuff!) Just like the Bible tells us in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”(NKJV).
In loving others, she reminds us not to “settle for having an opinion when you can be an example”. She encourages the reader to love your neighbors by actually getting to know them. The Goff family has a whole lot of love, and if we can emulate it in the slightest, this world will see a noticeable difference.
I highly recommend this one. And when you buy it, let a friend borrow it after you read it. Read it with a Bible in hand. She speaks truth, but don’t just take her word for it. Go to the Word and see the same ideas reflected in the book. By the time you get to the last page, I hope you can say with confidence that love lives where you are. Happy reading.