Originally published Thursday, 23 April 2015.
You may not know it yet, but you are fighting dragons.
And you might not realize it yet, but your heart has dirt. Lots of it.
So does mine.
In her book, Dragons and Dirt: The truth about changing the world – and the courage it requires, author Dalene Reyburn sheds light on the dragons that we fight each day of our lives, and the dirt that needs to be scrubbed clean from our hearts.
So we can get on with the all-important work of changing the world.
Be careful. This book will make you think. It pulls out all the stops and tells it like it is.
Dragons and Dirt is a biblically sound gift to the church. Dalene’s words make Christianity look attractive — and I don’t say that lightly. With a winsome tone, she champions the life lived worthy of the gospel.
Her writing makes me wish I could rub shoulders with her everyday, in hopes that her wisdom and worldview might rub off on me.
I tweeted my way through the book as best as I could, but the biggest problem was that I was underlining and highlighting whole paragraphs, not just 140 characters at a time.
There are more quotable quotes than I can count — far more than can fit into a single blog post.
To summarize, Dalene breaks the book into four parts. Part One deals with the dragons. She subtitles this section, “The truth about adversity — and the courage you’ll need to face it.” In these chapters, you’ll be challenged by truths concerning looming dragons like change; suffering; criticism, opposition and rejection; the pressure for pleasure, possessions and prestige; and the pressure to be accepted, affirmed and adored.
In the early chapters, Dalene peels back the layers of her heart and shares the pain and disappointment she endured when her firstborn son was born blind. She writes, “Like change, suffering was a catalyst that awakened something in me — a deeper urge and urgency to live fully. To invest my time and energy in things that mattered more.”
One major thing I’ll take away from this book is the encouragement to keep doing the Next Right Thing. When life feels overwhelming; when you feel like you’re about to drown; when the cares of this world threaten to pull you under — just do the Next Right Thing. And then the Next Right Thing after that.
Part Two delves into the nitty gritty of the dirt. This section is subtitled, “The truth about your own heart — and the courage you’ll need to examine it.” Here, Dalene dives into the need for a clean heart; the importance of forgiveness; the struggle for contentment; and the sneaky, wily ways of pride.
She challenges us to persevere in the daily need to search out those sins and scrub them out. Of course, Jesus is the only One who can truly clean a person’s heart — yet it requires daily obedience, daily repentance, and daily effort to choose the way of holiness.
“You’ll use your best gifts and do your best loving and leave the best legacy if you’ve tidied up inside of you. Take it from someone who’s done it — and does it — and will need to do it again tomorrow: ‘You won’t regret starting a clean heart habit.’”
Dalene’s step-by-step process of forgiveness is another powerful chapter. She explains, “…the God who gives strength wouldn’t have told me to forgive if it wasn’t possible.” Regarding people who have offended her, Dalene admits, “If Jesus could look at them and say, ‘It is finished,’ then who am I to keep their sin on life support?”
“Forgiveness is our most powerful secret weapon for living full and free.”
It’s also clear that Dalene has battle scars from the war against comparison. She shares as one with experience: “Comparison steals your dreams. It punctures your confidence. It embezzles your energy and joy. It ruins relationships.”
The chapter on pride cut me deep. Like this, for example: “No one is attracted to the person who is always trying to make himself or his life bigger.” And this one, too:
“I’m living desperately into the truth that it’s in making myself small — going lower — passing on the glory because it’s not mine to clutch and it’s too holy to handle — that my life becomes beautiful …. I long to live, as someone has said, not so that my presence will be missed but rather to make Christ’s presence known.”
In Part Three, we learn how to cultivate holy habits, like rest, thanksgiving, love for God and His Word, and prayer.
Some of my favorite quotes from the chapter on rest:
“God commands that I rest and if I’m going to be an effective instrument of change in the hands of God, I had better obey.”
“Resting well should energize me and increase my capacity and effectiveness in terms of Kingdom influence.”
“I need to be brave to shut out the lie that busyness equals success.”
Again — don’t you just wish you had the whole book in your hands already??
Finally, Part Four looks at “living brave in community — and the change that it brings.” Dalene wraps up this gem of a book by focusing on marriage, parenting, and truly loving people, even when it’s inconvenient.
About parenting, Dalene offers these nuggets of wisdom:
“My sons are God’s before they are mine and they will be His for eternity …. I’m holding their hearts on borrowed time. They are my greatest long-term offshore investments. I’m trusting for dividends in eternity.”
Goodness, I could go on and on with quote after quote, but I’ll leave you with these closing words from the epilogue, which is Dalene’s letter to her sons:
“There will always be dragons.
There will always be dirt.
Slaying the former and scrubbing out the latter has to be your habit, all your days.”
If you do these things, you might just change the world.
To quote Dalene one last time:
Do you dare?
Dalene Reyburn is a South African author, speaker and blogger. You can find her at her blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
And .. don’t forget to hurry up and get yourself (and your friends!) a copy of her fantastic book, Dragons and Dirt: The truth about changing the world – and the courage it requires.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.