Saturday, April 16, 2016

Love Equals Live

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Book Review: Love Does
Author: Bob Goff
Nashville, Thomas Nelson, 2012
240 pages

Love is the topic. “I’m not that great at spelling and thankfully my phone autocorrects the words I type for me,” writes speaker, author, and lawyer Bob Goff in his book Love Does. “What I’ve noticed, though, is that almost every time I type in the word love, it gets changed to the word live.”

Love is an action word. Love acts. Love is something you become familiar with through repetitive doing. Through loving. Loving actions are fully satisfying but you need to keep doing them because you build an appetite for what love produces. Love has a duplication effect that is exponential because it is contagious. Love changes. Love makes a difference. Love doesn’t care what anyone thinks of it because love isn’t thinking of its own image. Love doesn’t care who’s watching because love doesn’t look over its own shoulder. Love’s inertia keeps love moving forward. Love does. This is what the reader learns from Goff’s stories in this book.

In one story, Randy made a huge sacrifice in a personal relationship to care for a younger, naive version of Bob Goff before he was an author or lawyer or anything and didn’t know he’d be anything because he didn’t know how the world worked. As Randy mentored young master Goff, Randy never gave any indication to Bob what investing in someone at a crucial time in life could cost. Bob never even knew he was being schooled because Randy was such a humble mentor. That’s how love does it. Love doesn’t lord it.

Goff tells the story of the first time he heard about Jesus from a sniper named Doug. Bob learned that when you choose to follow Jesus and do what Jesus does, and take the words of Jesus at face value, typical stands in the shadow of radical. Normal isn’t even noticed. Love is not normal.

In another story, Goff tells us about the time he opens his front door to a young stranger in love. The smitten stranger wants to use Bob’s backyard to marry his girlfriend. The lengths this young stranger goes to in order to demonstrate his love for this girl redefines smitten. Love is extravagant.

You don’t have to read this book from front to back to enjoy it. Start in chapter ten, for example, where you’ll see what kind of a crazy, think-out-side-of-the-box parent Goff is. After he tells his young kids about what happened on September 11, 2001, he helps them process history in the making by giving the kids this assignment: “If you had five minutes in front of a group of world leaders, what would you ask them to help make sense of life, faith, hope, and the events unfolding around them?” In chapter ten you’ll read what happens when answers to the letters start rolling in.

Goff shamed me as I read and cried and was entertained. Most people don’t have the resources Goff has to do the globetrotting he does or play with the kind of toys he gets to play with. But does that mean my faith has to be smaller or that I have to love less? Can’t I love where I am with what I have? I think so. Jesus doesn’t need anything from me but me to love and work and impact the world through me.

At times, super extroverted Goff’s perspective seemed out of balance only because he loves so unusually. To the introverts among us, this is intimidating. But it should be inspiring. We might not do what Goff does, but that doesn’t mean that love doesn’t work through us. Introvert or extrovert, love doesn’t care and love can get done through you, too.

This book was written for you. It’s quite possible you may feel stuck and stale and ready for something to happen that will change everything. Here’s the rub: The chances that something is going to happen to you are low. You need to be intentional about love. You need to do love. As you do love, you’ll forget stuck and stale. Skeptical? Read the book. You have something stored up in you that hasn’t been seen in a while. Or maybe you didn’t know it was there at all. But love will be stirred up in you nonetheless. And you’ll have to do it. Read the book.

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