I’m a huge music fan. Whenever I find an artist that I love, I will track down all of their recordings. More often than not, their earliest recordings end up being some of my favorite things to listen to. It is inspiring as a musician to hear another artist “finding their sound”.

Reading On the Anvil by Max Lucado was a little bit like that. I have been a fan of Max’s for over 20 years and have called him a friend for over a little over ten. Perusing through Amazon a couple of weeks ago, I came across a title I didn’t recognize, and realized it was Max’s very first book. This book would be my next read. And it ended up being a wonderful book.

On the Anvil didn’t begin as a book at all. Before he had written any books, Max was charged with writing articles for a church newsletter. These articles were later culled into this collection of essays. As a fan of Max’s, this book was a delight to read. It was fascinating being able to watch Max “find his voice” on the page. Now, don’t get me wrong, he was a great writer even this early on. But you could see him trying different approaches from essay to essay. Some were stories about people he’d met. Others involved reflections on aspects of God’s personality, while others were more introspective. Max even included a couple of poems. The essays are presented under the theme of God’s “anvil”, or the tool he uses us to shape into instruments for his glory.

My favorite passages were those which involved the reader in spiritual exercises. A chapter called “Life From the Press Box” encourages the reader to take half a day to assess life from an eternal perspective. Another chapter called “Put Your Beliefs Where Your Heart Is” riffs on one simple question (What do you believe?) as a valuable tool during life’s difficulties.

If you’ve ever read any of Max’s books, you will certainly enjoy this one. It’s great to see the place where he started. Beyond that, it’s just great.