The longing for heaven, even among Christians, likely is at an all time low in the Western world. Technology, wealth, “progress,” have done well in providing a comfortable, insulated existence for us. We are all bubble boys now, and as a result we are at ease on earth with little perceived need of heaven. Satan has anesthetized us with materialism, tricked us into turning God’s material blessings against ourselves.
Jeff Goins has written a book about what happens when a fallen world intrudes into that bubble. It surprises us, makes us uncomfortable. We are “disabused of the status quo.” Goins argues it can leave us wrecked.
Goins recounts his personal experiences from Spain and Mexico to the streets of Nashville as he comes face to face with beggars, the homeless and destitute single mothers. Goins writes, “these are the experiences we need. Our brokenheartedness at the injustices we witness is what gives us compassion. So when we rush past these messy and uncomfortable moments we take away the experiences that teach us mercy.”
It also challenges our self-centered assumptions about life. “We’ve believed a lie. We’ve been told life is about us.” Being wrecked is when we are whacked on the side of the head with the realization that it is not.
Built around the framework of Goins’s own life experience, Wrecked also includes episodes from others, mostly missionaries. By day, Goins works for a mission organization helping missionaries tell their stories. It’s a job that constantly brings him into contact with the newly wrecked, men and women often overwhelmed when they come face to face with the distress and poverty that exists beyond our shores.
Goins recounts the restlessness that the “wrecked” feeling brings, that it can lead to a dangerous self-righteousness, looking for hits of compassion to assuage the guilt. But these are in some ways necessary stages to lead us to a point where we can truly be useful.
Being wrecked is in some ways an easy thing. It’s not comfortable; it is reorienting. But the initial realization that there is suffering is but a first step. Some never move past this stage. Their lives can become chaotic, overwhelmed with trying to fix the world. Goins rightly warns, “The world is broken and remains that way, in spite of our efforts to help it.”
In perhaps the most valuable section of Wrecked, Goins calls for moving into a life of mature commitment. This is not simply a commitment to helping others, but creating a habit of balanced commitment in our lives: a commitment to our marriages, our children, our church, our jobs. It’s picking up our lives when the adventure ends, which is when we begin to have true lasting impact on the world. Goins writes, “God wants to use our restlessness to call us out of the world and into a new reality characterized by order, not chaos.”
Goins’s book is not easy. It’s often raw. And it does challenge, challenges us to do the hard things, not the exciting things. He tells us, “What you ought to be looking for in your search for your life’s calling is struggle, not resolution.”
Indeed, “it’s hard to get your heart broken on the couch. You have to go.”