Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Shake the Dust

There is an older lady in my church who has one of those friendly faces that exudes strength and kindness. On a few occasions she has lead prayer during service with words that were heart-felt, considered, and plain-spoken. No platitudes, no Christianese. It also turns out that this lady, Marcia Shepherd, is the mother of my church's pastor. Recently, I found out that she had written a short book a few years ago called Shake the Dust and Move on, that I felt would be worthwhile for me. I am one who tends to hold onto things - circumstances, relationships, harsh words - that can imprison me in their grip to a level, at times, that deeply affect my spirit and my attitude. Negative thoughts and emotions can sometimes keep their claws in me for days at a time.

There are myriad self-help books on the market whose theme is to never give up, to persevere, to re-double our efforts when we want to walk away, to throw in the towel, to call it quits. This book, Shake the Dust, is not about that. In fact, to the contrary, the theme here is that sometimes it is necessary for our spiritual, physical, and mental health to let go, to shake the dust and move on. The title is motivated by an instruction that Jesus gave to his disciples when he sent them out to minister to the world. He told them that if they or their message were rejected by the people to whom they were preaching and teaching, to shake the dust of the place from their sandals, and to move on to the next village.

Shake the Dust is a very quick read, but loaded with sound advice regarding how and when to walk away from certain situations, be they personal relationships, requests for our time and energy, our jobs, or lingering feelings of defeat and failure. A heart-felt, considered, and plain-spoken book that can be a perfect inclusion into your devotional time for a few days.