Andy Andrew's little book The Noticer (2009) reminded me of Og Mandino's books of another era. He uses a simple story to make a larger point, not entirely unlike the use of a parable. Andrew's book, admittedly is not an overtly religious work, even though published by Thomas Nelson. Still, it's an engaging story and quite practical with natural applications to a Christian life. The subtitle explains the heart of the tale: "Sometimes all a person needs is a little perspective." As an old Chinese proverb states, "if you want to know what water is, don't ask the fish." Or as Ravi Zarcharias notes, "total immersion deprives the mind of a counterperspective and, for that matter, an honest evaluation." To put it more simply: we often lose perspective when we are too close to the issue. In Andrew's story an indigent old man named "Jones" provides this perspective to a number of people in crisis. For some it's a marital crisis, for another a crisis of morals, for another simply of purpose in life. Looking back on the many times I have been called to 'counsel' troubled people as pastor I realize that I probably was employing, much of the time, Jones' simple attempt to regain perspective, to be able to see the problem from a different, and hopefully, more productive angle. We can choose to see life in any way we want, and too often we choose the negative. And one thing I learned in psychology class, self-fulfilling prophesies do work. If we see our lives as
unmitigated disasters we will begin to live in such a way to reinforce that.
Of course Andrew's book lacks the most important ingredient of God's grace in action, and if I had one substantive critique it would be there. Not that you can't see God's hand at work even without mentioning His name, but it would have been nice to acknowledge God's work as the real healing in this scenarios. All in all, though, it's a nice little book worthy perusing if you find yourself with a few minutes at the library.