While I am not of this opinion myself, I believe that there are many Christians out there who look down on Max Lucado books. I guess that I can understand why they might not be everyone’s cup of tea — he writes like an encouraging staccato symphony, short snappy sentences that might come across as simplistic and easy.
That would be a mistaken assumption, in my opinion, and Lucado’s latest book, Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World, is a perfect example of how, on first blush, Lucado’s writing might seem overly simplistic, but on deeper reflection, you see that the apparent simplicity is only surface level and is a result of insightful and loving Biblical study.
Anxious for Nothing was, admittedly, a necessary balm during a difficult time. Conveniently, the focus of the book was Philippians 4:6-7:
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
What I really appreciated, however, is that Lucado expands the focus of this verse to include the immediately surrounding verses which — as I discovered in reading Anxious for Nothing — only serve to increase the importance, and heighten my love of this wonderful verse.
This might sound obvious to some, but to many verses 6 and 7 have been ingrained as a memory verse. This hasn’t robbed them of their importance, but to so often forget the promises and commands that surround these verses is to lose ever greater context and teaching.
Of particular interest to me was the reminder to “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (4:4) Lucado hammers home the importance of this verse with three chapters instructing us to Rejoice in the Lord’s Sovereignty, Rejoice in the Lord’s Mercy, and to Rejoice in the Lord Always. The reminder that in our anxiety God remains sovereign and over all things was a timely reminder, and the encouragement that we are to rejoice in the Lord — as compared to simply rejoicing and being glad regardless of our circumstances — really helped me through a time of difficulty.
The reminder that we have control over our own thoughts, and its relationship to the command to not “worry about anything” was similarly helpful in that it provided an applicatory alternative to the worrying. Specifically, Lucado highlights the imperative of verse 8:
“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.”
I will say that, despite the size of the physical copy that sits in front of me as I write this, the book is very short. Lucado’s contribution to the physical copy is only 150 pages in length — and even that is stretching the truth somewhat, given the numerous pages given over to a single quote from the chapter, and the single pages given over to a chapter or section heading. By the time you hit the 153rd page you unexpectedly hit a ‘Questions for Reflection’ section compiled by Jessalyn Foggy. I’m sure that they are helpful questions, but the conclusion to Lucado’s writing came as a surprise and I was somewhat disappointed.
The Questions for Reflection might suit many readers — and expand the usefulness of the book into small groups — but I was hoping for more chapters digging into the Bible.
In the end, however, this is a relatively minor quibble compared to what I received. Lucado writes in a way that I am able to learn — not learn intellectually but to learn at a heart level that impacts my living and connects me closer to God. Though it might be shorter than other Max Lucado books I have on my shelf (of which there are many), Anxious for Nothing nevertheless remains as timelessly helpful and beneficial as any them.