Why I (Usually) Don’t Like Devotionals

The Gospel Coalition | 12/10/2019 | Caleb Wait
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I’ve often felt slightly guilty about my disinterest in devotionals. Devotionals can feel like forced therapy sessions, asking How does this make you feel? over and over again, as if the pristine covers of doves with olive branches and footprints in the sand want to know. It’s not surprising, then, that C. S. Lewis’s confession resonates with me:

For my own part, I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books. . . . I believe that many who find that “nothing happens” when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.

Lewis - Touches - Something - Theology - Abstract

While I believe Lewis touches on something significant here, it’s important to admit that theology can live in the abstract. In seminary, you must learn and memorize theology for your exams; some use theology to “win” debates (in person or online); and still others use theology because they have to—it’s a part of their job. Clever creatures as we are, we can use theology in ways that ensure it never looks us square in the face and asks anything of us.

It’s rare, then, to find a devotional that is theologically and doctrinally rich, and also serves as a painfully honest look in the mirror. But I believe Paul Tripp has accomplished just this in My Heart Cries Out: Gospel Meditations for Everyday Life.

Tripp - Book - Notes - Journey - Struggle

According to Tripp, the book is made up of “notes from [his] journey through the struggle of God’s amazing grace” (8). The meditations play out as poems and other forms of verse, wrestling “between the ‘already’ of our conversion and the ‘not yet’ of our home-going” (8)....
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Gospel Coalition
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