Ken Shigematsu shows that spiritual formation is more than just solitude and contemplative reflections. Spiritual formation happens in the everyday, in each and every moment of life. For those caught up in the busyness of work, family, and church, it often feels like time with God is just another thing on a crowded ‘to-do’ list. Ken explains how the time-tested spiritual practice of the ‘rule of life’ can help bring busy people into a closer relationship with God. He shows how a personal rule of life can fit almost any vocation or life situation. In God in My Everything, you will discover how to create and practice a life-giving, sustainable rhythm in the midst of your demanding life. If you long for a deeper spirituality but often feel that the busyness of life makes a close relationship with God challenging—and, at times, seemingly impossible—this book is for you.
God in My Everything: How an Ancient Rhythm Helps Busy People Enjoy God. By Ken Shigematsu. Grand Rapids, Michigan.: Zondervan, 2013. 256 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0310499251. $12.78. Learn more here.
We all run at an unbelievably fast pace. Trying to balance the different facets of our lives, we juggle work-family-kids-hobbies-finances-marriage, all while moving at the speed of a tweet. It’s not sustainable and without proper balance and guidance we will all burn out quickly, leaving all that we love in the ashes of our pace. It’s for this reason more than any other that God In My Everything is a necessary read. In a world running at an unsustainable pace the only thing left to center us is Jesus. Ken offers very practical tools and helps to help us rediscover our roots and restoration in Jesus. – Micah Hasty
God in My Everything: How An Ancient Rhythm Helps Busy People Enjoy God is a synthesis of the ancient monastic idea of a “Rule of Life” into our modern evangelical context. Shigematsu draws largely from The Rule of St. Benedict to translate spiritual disciplines and the monastic life to into a formula accessible to the reader. Part one begins the book with an explanation of the ancient idea of a rule of life, stating that the term “rule” should more accurately be understood by today’s reader as a “guide”. Shigematsu uses the metaphor of a trellis guiding a plant to grow properly and flourish. The book is then organized around this metaphor, describing each aspect of a rule of life as the bars and rungs of a trellis for life. Part two describes the bars at the base of the trellis are the “Roots” of the guide, Sabbath, prayer, and sacred reading. Parts three, four, and five explain the rungs of the trellis labeled Relate, Restore, and Reach Out respectively. The spiritual practices in the Relate section are spiritual friendship, sexuality, and family life. The Restore section gives guides for life regarding care for the body, play, and use of money. Part five discusses work, justice, and witness. Each chapter closes with questions for discussion and the book closes with an appendix offering examples of how to live out a “rule of life”.
I found this book to be simple, accessible and helpful. To further evaluate the book, I would like to describe my experience reading it and the progression of my opinion regarding it.
- I began reading with a critical mindset, looking toward the moment when I would be writing and submitting an “unbiased review”. I immediately noticed that this was a book about spiritual disciplines and the monastic life, a genre I have read several times before. I noticed Shigematsu’s reliance on The Rule of St. Benedict (as stated above) as well as other sources, both ancient and modern (e.g. Dallas Willard). I have read Benedict and Willard and many other sources this work draws from. Perhaps I’m a literary snob, but my first reaction to this work was, “why bother? Read the original sources”.
- As I continued through part one and into the rest of the work I came to the conclusion that it would be a good introduction to this topic for those who have not read these original works or had experience with spiritual disciplines. The writing is clear and concise. Personal stories and anecdotes are spread throughout, making the subject matter relatable. I decided that perhaps the book would be worthwhile if used by a group of people with various levels of Christian experience, as a sort-of “The Monastic Life for Beginners”.
- Somewhere later in my reading I believe God used God in My Everything to humble me. This was not a book just for beginners in the faith, this was a book for me. I already know much of the truth it contained, but I haven’t put it into practice. I’ve already read many of the authors Shigematsu draws from, but I haven’t synthesized their ideas into a cohesive, practical, achievable guide for my own life. Its simplicity is not a fault, it is a strength. I know about “Ancient Rhythms” but I am still, truly and humbly, a busy person who needs help to enjoy God. This isn’t a book just for beginners to read, it is a book for me to read again, with a humble spirit. And I recommend that you do the same.
God in My Everything is useful and beneficial for anyone who desires God in their everything.