So, I was a little confused when I picked up this book. Or, no, before that. I had put One Thing on my list for reading this year. Then when the time grew nigh, I looked the book up and bought One Thing by Gary Keller, some sort of self-help best-seller. I think I thought it was on there for my pandemic reading. But somewhere between that moment and the one when the book arrived, I figured out that I had intended to read One Thing by Sam Storms, a Christian hedonism book that was also popular back in 2004 but maybe not to quite the extent of the second book of the same title that I now owned for almost no reason. Sam Storms is actually more known, I suppose, as the pastor of Oklahoma’s Bridgeway Church or the founder of Desiring God Ministries. Maybe he’s not that popular at all, really. My pastor is a fan, I think.
So maybe this book came to me somewhere along the years because my pastor used it in a sermon series or at least recommended it. When I first cracked it, I was a bit taken aback. Storms dives right into that Christian Hedonism stuff without even mentioning John Piper or Desiring God. It came across to me like he thought he invented it, though I was relieved when he finally did give some credit to Piper. Not that other people couldn’t come to the same ideas, but it felt like a rip-off. I also wondered why I was even reading this book, when I had read Desiring God twenty years ago. Well…
I didn’t pick up a new philosophy or anything, but there were some chapters in the book that I really, really liked. Besides reminding us to “develop a passion for the beauty of God,” Storms writes these long, detailed chapters—kinda out of the blue—about, essentially, outer space and chemistry. He goes on and on about the size and scope of the universe and how even though we can’t even imagine it, even a little, it doesn’t come close to the size and scope of God and in fact God made all that and He’s sustaining it all and it’s not even making Him tired. And as for the smallest particles that we so far know exist? God’s that detailed, He’s capable of knowing and working on a level that ridiculously small and even smaller, because He’s God. I liked sitting there and thinking about these things, going on these adventures in awe.
What I didn’t like was reading Storms’ lists of alliterative adjectives. You may roll your eyes when I say “lists” because sometimes it’s just a bit much in some regular writing but I’m not kidding—he also sometimes makes lists of adjectives, grouping them by alliteration. No joke. He seems to think that the more adjectives he uses, the more we will take it in, understand it. Like he’s giving us choices because, buddy, none of these words is actually doing it.
In the end, I was glad I had read this random, little book. It gave me food for thought and inspired some wonder and perhaps a little perspective adjustment. You can see the quotes below for some of the things that struck home. I certainly wouldn’t discourage you from reading it; there’s nothing really wrong with it besides perhaps being a little uneven or full of adjectives. At least Storms kept me guessing. The book’s not too long and it’s true, as far as I can tell. The application (if you can call it that) isn’t easy or even realistic for most of us (I almost had a panic attack one night after reading some of it), but still true.
A SMATTERING OF EARLY QUOTES:
“God is most glorified in us when our knowledge and experience of Him ignite a forest fire of joy that consumes all competing pleasures and He alone becomes the treasure we prize” (p12).
“So, here’s why you are: to relish and rejoice in the revelation of divine beauty” (p13).
“Happiness is the whole soul resting in God and rejoicing that so beautiful and glorious a Being is ours. Happiness is the privilege of being enabled by God’s grace to enjoy making much of Him forever” (p15).
“And we’ve been created to join the party!” (p23).
“God chose to create from the endless and self-replenishing overflow of delight in Himself” (p22).
“Christianity forbids us no pleasures, save those that lead to temporal misery and eternal woe” (p28).
“To be a ‘lover of God’ rather than ‘pleasure’ is to find in Him, not it, the satisfaction our souls so desperately crave” (p29).
“The ultimate reason God sustained you through the night and awakened you this morning and mercifully preserves your soul even now is so that His name might be exalted” (p34).
“Understand God is but a means to enjoying God” (p35).
“To think that we can decrease our affinity for sinful pleasure apart from a concentrated fixation on the spiritually sublime is simply delusional” (p37).