Max Lucado is a story teller. It comes naturally to him - using language to evoke feeling and emphasise his point. Here, in Outlive Your Life: you were made to make a difference, he uses this story telling once more.
The book is loosely based around the book of Acts. I say loosely, because although intially it promises to immerse the reader in the story of the life of the new church, in reality each chapter takes a text as its theme. The idea behind the book is that we can outlive our lives by making a difference to others.
I very much appreciate this premise, because I myself have a passion for making a difference - in whatever way we can. So I was keen to read this, although these days I tend to find Lucado books not as challenging as I would like.
I have to confess to being a little disappointed. Although I appreciate what he is trying to do, the chapters seem almost like a collection stand alone sermons (complete with illustrations) than they do as part of a whole. A book, in my opinion, needs to lead you on and draw you deeper. For me, this was simply too bitesized. And although I too like playing with language to make a point, Lucado can be a bit repetitive and in the case of retelling biblical stories, rather too keen on embellishment of detail. I like to be drawn into a story and to use my imagination, but occasionally I felt he took this a bit too far in his descriptions. Once you start mentally disagreeing with descriptions or finding them too detailed, your attention to the main point is lost.
And that, I think is the problem. The book is too cluttered and does not hone itself, does not weave itself around a central point. The introduction promises but does not deliver.
There are genuinely moving and interesting points that are made, but they were too disparate for me in my overall appreciation of the book. This is a shame, because there are good things to be found here. It just doesn't hold together and keep my attention.
In some ways, it felt like I should literally be listening to it - as if indeed it was a sermon series. Perhaps there are those who will respond well to this, but for me, wanting to go deeper and to be drawn in, it felt rather frustrating. I would put it down and keep forgetting to pick it up again, which didn't help with the cohesive (or non cohesive) element. Of course, it may have just been me being inattentive!
I know that there will be those who disagree with me and for this I am glad: the idea of making a difference in our world because by loving others we are loving Jesus - which was a beautiful way to end the book - is a wonderful one. I hope that there are those who read in a different way from me and therefore get more out of it.