Larry Crabb, SoulTalk: The Language God Longs for us to Speak (Nashville: Thomas Nelson,2003). 266 pages.
The pressure to find solutions for people in pain is powerful. A friend comes to you with a need or an emergency in a relationship and you feel put on the spot to come up with a piece of advice that will help ‘solve the situation.’ The pressure is even more powerful if you are a Christian talking with another Christian about the stresses and strains in life. We have created an atmosphere of therapeutic solution finding that has put all of us in a bind.
Crabb believes we are missing the boat entirely. He is not against finding solutions as such, but he is clear that we miss the mark more often than not in that we simply do not know how to talk with each other out of the depths of what God is doing in each of us. We like to talk across the surface of things. It is just easier to do that. We feel the urge to jump into a conversation and offer some soothing piece of comfort, offer accountability, or the magic pill that will offer the solution to a deeply complicated problem.
So instead of talking out of our own wit, wisdom, or fear, Crabb offers a new way of looking at relationships and life – SoulTalk. SoulTalk is his way of leading us into a conversation where God is at the center of every life and every relationship in every situation. He argues that we do not really know how to talk this way and his book offers a series of steps that help us break bad, religious habits and enter into God’s way of working in people’s lives.
I found Crabb’s formulation of SoulTalk to be deeply freeing and rightly prioritized. In my role as a pastor I am often with people who find themselves in over their heads, or who have finally decided to talk about God when life falls apart, and the unspoken expectation is that a conversation or two might just do the trick. His advice is to stop talking and start learning how to listen to what the Spirit is doing and wants to do in an individual’s life. The primary goal in each SoulTalk conversation is not empathy or solution-finding, but Spirit-finding.
Along the way he has a lot of things to say about the place of God in the Christian’s life that simply need to be heard in a Christian culture where we have exchanged Christ’s life for an expectation of blessing and prosperity. What would happen if intimacy with God for Christ’s sake were more important to us than the cure to our cancer or the ‘fixing’ of a deeply hurting situation? According to Crabb, when we put these kinds of things first, we find the greatest thing possible, and God begins to do the work in our souls that is needed.
I highly recommend this book for any believer interested in deepening their discipleship, understanding how to relate with others in Christ, and how to learn to listen to the Spirit in all things.
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