The reason for the change for this particular review is due to how I read, or rather, listened to Don't Waste Your Life. My wonderful wife gave me the audiobook version of this work for Christmas. I listened to it each week on my day off as I drove to the ski resort and returned home. Listening to an audiobook makes it rather difficult to return to highlighted lines and notes in the margins in order to write a review. Quoting directly becomes extremely difficult; and ultimately, I feel as if I need to keep the entire book in my head at once as I write a reflection of my thoughts of this book. On the other hand, there is something great about listening to books while I drive, especially this one.
John Piper is the preaching pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church and the author of more than 40 books. (His sermons and materials are quoted often and may be found at www.desiringGod.org.) So it is no surprise that Don't Waste Your Life is written much like an extended sermon series. Piper is passionate about the material he discusses and writes as if he deeply believes the words he has penned. They seem to have first shaped his own life before he ever decided to write this book, rather than having shaped his life while writing the book. The value in this is the reality that Piper's credibility is extremely high and his life appears to be one of the best examples of his thesis.
The easiest explanation of Piper's purpose for this book, as for much of his life it seems, is that he is calling his readers to find true joy by making much of Christ. He tells a story of an article he read about a retired American couple who now spend the latter part of their days living in a large beach house and collecting shells. In his imaginative way, Piper paints a picture of this couple standing before God and saying, "Look at our shells God, aren't they great." This, he argues, is a wasted life.
The book is conversational but does not lack for convicting words and powerful chapters that drive home significant points. As I would make my way to the ski slopes, two chapters would accompany me on my drive. Scripture fills each page and Piper argues his points well. After shutting off the car and suiting up, I would find myself lost in reflection. Every ride up the lift would allow my mind to circle around and around in the material presented by Piper, always followed by an serious examination of my own life. But this was not simply the byproduct of a day in the sunshine on the mountain. Two more chapters would join me for the drive home. Once home, I would again find myself reflecting on Piper's words, Scripture, and a critique of my own life. I could not escape it; in fact, I welcomed it.
It is difficult to read this book and not feel as if something should be done about the wasteful parts of life. We all typically want to look back on our life and know that we used it well and Piper gives a charge of how to do that and do it for the Kingdom. After listening to specific chapters, there was a few times when I discovered that a life course correction was needed. Pastor Jared Jenkins, a friend, explained that it was after reading this book and discussing it with another pastor that he felt he should go to seminary! This is the kind of book that can't be read without some kind of conviction. Reading it will bring the risk of change but it's well worth the risk.
I realize that I have done little to explain the contents of the book. The reality however, is that this is not an easy book to explain. It is a continual explanation of Scripture, nearly always resulting in a picture of finding our joy by making much of Christ. There are two chapters that provide the reader with a glimpse into Piper's pre-pastoral life and calling. Even though these early chapters were rather different than the rest of the book, they were extremely enjoyable. The story-telling fashion and sermonized writing kept this book both informative, challenging, and accessible. The remainder of the chapters were compelling. Piper supported his thesis extremely well, but that is typically for Piper. The book is well written and I should say the audio version was nicely produced and read well too.
In the end, all I can do is encourage you to read it. You won't be disappointed.
*I have no material connection to John Piper or this book.