There is a particular class of inspirational book these days that you can identify on the shelf without even looking at the content. First is the book’s size – usually no larger than 5 by 8 inches. Second is the cover art – typically a scenic vista or natural landscape, meant to soothe and inspire. I didn’t get a look at the cover art before I agreed to accept a free copy of The Echo Within from Waterbrook Press and review it on my blog, but as soon as I pulled it out of the envelope, I started to wonder. Is this gonna be another one of those fluffy inspirational books?
I write about paying attention for the things that can point us to the Sacred in our lives. About the longings that we have for home and community and a sense of belonging. About practice and ritual and work and contemplation and the way that such things can be constant reminders of who we are and who we are to become.
And in this little volume, as you might guess from its title, Benson urges us to listen to “the echo within” – the little voice within ourselves that gives us some inclination of choices we should make, directions we should take, things we should believe. In the first chapter he describes it this way:
I am coming to believe that the small voice within me is an echo of the Voice that is still speaking the incarnate word that I am here to become, an echo of the Voice that spoke us all into being, an echo of the Voice that spoke all that is alive.
Sometimes we are hesitant to trust that small voice within us because we think it is just ourselves doing the talking… because we have heard a similar voice inside us say things that are hurtful and angry and hateful, to ourselves and about others.
We must learn to listen deeper and deeper, seeking out the true voice within us that echoes the Voice of the One Who made us…
The fact that the Voice that calls to us often sounds like our own is not something to be mistrusted or feared. It is a sign of how close God is to us.
Benson has some good insights in The Echo Within about recognizing the talents, inclinations, and desires that God has built into us – sometimes we do tend to make this whole “God’s leading” thing more difficult than it needs to be – but on the whole Benson strays just a little too far in the “listen to your inner voice” direction, with no balance of recognizing the Truth that is revealed to us in Scripture.
For the person running weary and needing some quiet encouragement, The Echo Within might be a nice little volume to pick up. Read and consider it with discernment, though. That inner voice might be God, but then again, it might not be.