I don’t usually make it a habit to read Christian devotional literature. The scriptures?Yes. Theological tomes? Those too. But not much in the devotional genre. I generally find them too formulaic and often shallow.
That said, I have recently read Amba Keeble’s What Are You Made Of?, which I found neither shallow nor formulaic. This devotional work is based on Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth, and provides both thoughtful commentary and sincere personal sentiment.
Keeble’s book is rich in analogy and metaphor, and it is written in a very approachable and conversational style. Her focus question: What are we made of? is a great lens to examine Paul’s letter from. She humanises this approach to the modern reader by drawing a parallel to reality TV competitions, and the same question as put forward to contestants when they are on the verge of giving up. What a great Christian parallel! What are we made of when life is about to “defeat” us?
Sister Amba uses other illustrations which are wonderfully picked as well, such as Russian Stacking Dolls. She examines these, and how they are constructed from a solid core outwards. This analogy of a Christ-centred life (a solid core) runs throughout the book.
Popular cultural references as diverse as How the Grinch Stole Christmas and misaligned shopping trolley wheels engage the reader with familiar modern parables to illustrate the apostle’s timeless words.
Keeble draws her key question together wonderfully in challenging us to live boldly, live freely, and to shine forth that which is at our “Russian Doll” cores, in our Christian walk. I may not be a great fan of devotionals, but this work is one worth reading.
Amba and her husband, Rich are associate pastors at The Abundant Life (AOG) Church in Suffolk.