Survival Guide for the Soul


Survival Guide for the Soul (Zondervan, 2018)

Survival Guide for the Soul: How to Flourish Spiritually in a World that Pressures Us to Achieve is the second book authored by Ken Shigematsu.  Ken serves as senior pastor of Tenth Church in Vancouver, BC.  It’s one of the largest, most diverse city-center churches in Canada.  Writing in the Introduction, Pastor Ken notes that most of us possess a strong desire to stand out in some way.  Certainly, we know intellectually that God loves us.  But, on a daily basis, we continue to base our value on our success, outward appearance, and how others view us.  However, enduring achievement springs from the deep well of joy and gratitude for God’s love and grace.  Usually, though, our ambition to conquer and create wins out.  It trumps the hunger to experience deep relationships with people or intimacy with the Lord.

Yet, the author stresses, it’s possible to live with a whole and beautiful soul.  Even in a divided world.  Because as Christ redeems our ambition, we find ourselves empowered to live with depth and integrity.  Above all, God reaches out to us every day through people, creation, and Scripture.  Since most of us remain distracted and unaware, the habit of spiritual practices provides an essential survival guide for the soul.  For spiritual exercises attune us to God’s presence with us at all times.  They foster the deeper joy of a steady, solid relationship of love.  As a result, Ken counsels, embrace practices consistent with the grain of your character.  Most significantly, the design of spiritual practices reduces the monumental illusion that God is absent.

For example, embracing the Sabbath helps us remember that we’re human beings, loved by God.  Rather than human doings.  In addition, when we receive the gift of Sabbath, we work from a place of rest.  Instead of needing to rest from our work.  Also, the gift of Sabbath reminds us that we don’t live solely by the sweat of our brow.  We also live by the grace of manna falling all around us.  Furthermore, in meditation and silent prayer we assume a receptive and attentive posture, rather than an expressive and spoken stance.   Therefore, Ken advises, cultivate the daily rhythms of meditation and practicing gratitude.  In that way, you follow the path of Christ’s dependence on God.

In conclusion, the author exhorts, humble acts of hidden service help counter our pride and overweening ambition.  For the cross literally and figuratively shapes the way of Jesus.  A cruciform way of life.  Hence, we’re called to ask, Where is my cross?  To lay down our lives in self-giving love for others.  So, open your hands to tend to the work God’s called you to do.  And live for the applause of your Father in heaven.  Jesus’ life shows that greatness and obscurity aren’t opposites.  For God especially values hidden, obscure, and overlooked things.  As Ken concludes in his survival guide:

“May you live a life of daring courageousness, depth, and relationship as you come to be loved and to love more and more fully and more and more abundantly.”

About the author

Dave Henning

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