Dan Stanford gets straight to the point in the introduction of his newly released book, Losing the Cape: The Power of Ordinary in a World of Superheroes - "...as bad as the world is right now, we don't need a superhero to come save the day." Wait, what? Then why am I reading this book? Thankfully, he continues, "...we need ordinary people like you and me to join God and go change the world right where we are."
In the next 21 chapters Stanford goes on to give multiple example of people, in the Bible and the world today, who have accomplished great things, even when they were obviously lacking. He also encourages us to focus on our sphere of influence, use what we have on hand, rely upon God and not our works, and to stop expecting works of great importance to look big and earth shattering - sometimes the biggest thing to someone may come in the form of a small, seemingly insignificant gesture. To the person, however, it means the world.
While there are many biblical references, Losing the Cape: The Power of Ordinary in a World of Superheroes is a fairly casual, easy read. It was not until a few chapters in that I began to get into the book. That was the point where the author shared more of his background, what led him to where he is today, and more of how this has played out in his life. I believe the story could have done with a bit fewer superhero analogies at the beginning.
In the middle section, I found myself underlining a fair amount and adding notes in the margins. This was not due to finding formerly unknown concepts. Instead, it was to help me get further into the content of the book. It really did help encourage me to begin applying to concepts internally rather than superficially agreeing with them.
Several various parts are words of encouragement I could have used during particularly rough patches in my past. Hearing someone say those things to me at those moments would have gone a long way towards reenergizing me to keeping going.
The ending section was a deeper conclusion, though it felt a bit rushed. This part could have been expanded upon more and would have helped add to the application and encouragement in the reader's life. As it is, I believe taking time to think over what is read, rather than rushing through this last bit, will help the reader see more of how this can apply to their lives.
"Changing the world doesn't start with a cape and a catch phrase. Changing the world starts by allowing God to invade your world."
Following the last chapter are two additional sections - notes, arranged by chapters, and discussion questions. Again, nothing supper long or heavy, but a chance to slow down and contemplate how what you have read may apply to your life and current circumstances.
While a lot of the book is talking about us as people, what we can do, how the world around us can benefit from what we have to offer, that is not the real focus and point. In Chapter 19 Stanford makes a factual statement - our input was not needed when the world was created; people were being fed, clothed, and housed before we came along and will continue to be after we die; in a few generations we will most likely be forgotten. Doesn't sound too uplifting, does it?
Knowing all that, we were still uniquely created, born in a specific place at a specific time for a purpose. Yes, it could all have been accomplished without us, but He chose to use us, to give us a purpose. How awesome is that!