Book Report: Refresh

Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands by Shona and David Murray

Welcome to Refresh Gym, a process designed to move readers from chaos to calm. Years of experience as a pastor’s wife and medical doctor uniquely qualify Shona to counsel women, and she does so with a beautiful Scottish lilt, startling statistics, and solid theology. This companion guide to Reset (for men dealing with burnout) draws on scientific research but remains uncannily user-friendly. No matter what darkness accompanies your current situation in life, the stations of Refresh Gym can help.

Some of my favorite quotes include:

Many practical problems are rooted in wrong theology. Other practical problems result from a failure to apply theology to our lives.

Saying yes to everybody may mean that you are saying no to God.

Every Christian wants to know God more; few Christians fight for the silence required to know Him. Instead, we spend our days smashing stillness-shattering, knowledge-destroying cymbals on our ears and in our souls.

A grace-filled identity will produce a grace-paced life.

Overpromising is the fatal result of an overly optimistic view of our abilities plus an unrealistic estimate of our available time plus a desire to please other people. The result is megastress for the promise maker and usually huge disappointment for the promise recipients.

Our sleep patterns reveal our idols. 

[In heaven] we will no longer be burned out, but be burnished splendor at God’s right hand! That’s the horizon to keep in view—not the next diaper, or the next meeting, or the next business trip, or the next meal, but the next life.

I’m taking with me the difference between a Well-Planned Life and a Summoned Life. Though this concept was first introduced by David Brooks, Shona expands and applies it. “The Well-Planned Life is one in which we take time to find a clear purpose, then make appropriate decisions about how to spend our time and use our talents in light of that. The person living the Summoned Life, on the other hand, rejects the possibility of long-term life planning, but, as situations and circumstances arise, asks, ‘What are these circumstances summoning me to do?'” How easy it is for me to camp out in one extreme or the other. Depending on the season (or sometimes the hour), I’m either scheduling the day to a crazy level or throwing any sense of structure out the window. Shona says, “No Christian should be just a victim of events, a helpless cork tossed to and fro on the ever-changing ocean of circumstances and other people’s expectations,” but also warns against the danger of an inflexible and insensitive plan. “Everybody must accept an element of the Summoned Life.” Jesus models a mix of both, embracing a single unflinching goal while welcoming interruptions as the Father allows. This balanced way of framing my day lends a new level of spontaneous freedom and joyful intentionality—both vital in the trenches of motherhood (and the Christian life in general).

Ten journaling questions based on the text:

  • How can I, to the best of my ability, use God’s modern provisions to give my family the best hope of surviving and thriving?
  • What does my current state of health reveal about my theology?
  • Is my aim a perfect house characterized by cold sterility or a happy home filled with love and the presence of God?
  • What is my spiritual purpose, and is it being helped or hindered by my workload and work rate?
  • How might I practice spending time in the shadow of Calvary this week?
  • Which of the five wells of grace do I need to revisit most right now?
  • How have my life situation and lifestyle damaged me along the way? How do they feed off of each other?
  • Am I overworking and overstressed, or am I taking time to thoughtfully enjoy God’s world?
  • What physical, mental, emotional, relational, vocational, moral, and spiritual warning signs have I been tolerating?
  • In what ways have I turned exercise from a grace to be received into a law to be obeyed?

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