"What's your pleasure?" A common enough saying. Flippant even. For this chipmunk, the answer is obvious. He'd be very pleased to see me start the new gardening season. Daily, he sits on this lifeless planter of last year's tired soil and watches, hoping for things to come. But I must do some evaluating before bowing to his wishes.
I've saved this review, Gardening Reader, to post as an inauguration to my gardening season because that pleasure question over-wintered in the part of my heart that "loves" gardening in a heavy way. Some of you, faithful readers, are well-addressed as Garden Novice, but some of you are more Master Gardener than I. You are the ones who already know the joy of gracing a table with steaming bowls of food that sprang from your own hands plunged deep in the soil. Do you have concerns that you "need" this activity too much? Fear you're growing a little pagan in your love of the good earth? Idolatrous with the self-reliance it affords? And, if not for gardening, is there not "something" that can gnaw at you this way, not a vice by any means save in the sense that you might enjoy a little too much? If so--whether by gardening or any other joyful endeavor--this book is a good tool to have in hand for that season of double-digging those questions and concerns.
John Piper's Desiring God in its current edition is a revision of a book written some 20 years ago. Over those years, various criticisms of his "Christian hedonism" principles have arisen. In this new edition, he answers these critics alongside the restatement of his original thesis. (In fact, the appendix directly addresses his choice of the nomer Christian hedonism.)
Piper leads us in evaluating the importance we attach to our own happiness, but more significantly, he helps us hook that happiness question to a larger question: what makes God happy? "What is it about redemptive history that delights the heart of God?" After building that basic framework, he explores more specific examples of God-serving joy in the areas of love, money, prayer, missions, even suffering, which he notes offers the joy of a life less trivial and banal. He quotes Spurgeon in the observation: "They who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls."
The only down-side I found with this book was that its premise made my heart long to read Psalm-like writing, and Piper writes more in the style of Romans. But then again, maybe that is its highest recommendation. It surely achieved its purpose.
For me, gardening got the stamp of approval as I meditated through its pages. (My chipmunk friend breathed a sigh of relief.) For you it may be something else that is on the table, but I do believe this book could help you find peace as you define those ways you were uniquely designed to seek pleasure in God.
(I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.)