The Importance Of Perspective

I bumped into Arthur at Whole Foods yesterday. I was studying the label on a loaf of flax-meal bread when I heard his familiar voice. “It sure costs a lot to eat healthy, doesn’t breadit?” he asked, smiling.

“Yes,” I replied. “I have a buddy who refers to this place as ‘Whole Paycheck.'”

We both laughed, then Arthur said, still smiling, “That line would be a lot funnier if I actually had a paycheck.”

“I hear you,” I said. “Still, you look like you’re in a good mood.”

“I am,” he said. “I got a couple of emails yesterday that positively made my day.”

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Quickly, Before I Change My Mind

Robt. L. StevensonOne Sunday in 1875, when he was twenty-four, Robert Louis Stevenson, the Scottish author of such classics as Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, wrote a note to a friend of his in which he said, “I have been to church and am not depressed—a great step.”

In a similar vein, I could write, for you my loyal readers who have persevered with me through some grim seasons over the past few years, “I awoke this morning, reflected on my life situation, and for the first time in many a day, I was not disheartened.”

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My Apology

I had such high hopes for this blog. I called it “The Relentless Pursuit”  because I wanted to convey the idea that the Christian life is a pilgrimage, a continuous journey toward the goal of becoming like Jesus. I did not mean for that to suggest aimless wandering or Uphillconstant frustration arising from failure to reach a destination.

I spent several hours today reviewing the content of the 180 blog posts I have so far published since October 2011. I have had to conclude that, to an uncomfortable degree, I seem to have placed too much emphasis on the “relentless” aspect of my pilgrimage and not enough on the nature of the “pursuit” and the importance of the destination.

For that I apologize. You, my readers, deserved better.

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That Was My Mistake

We’ve all been there. We pour out our hearts, about a matter of great personal significance, to someone who appears willing to listen, only to hear, in response, some i-dont-careversion of this line: “I’m sorry, but I believe you have mistaken me for someone who cares.”

Perhaps the response has never been that crass or that brazen, but we’ve all encountered folks who, we think, ought to share our concern or our fear or our commitment in a certain matter. Trouble is, they don’t, and the consequence, for us, can be disappointing, if not devastating.

It has taken years, but I finally understand the degree to which this principle has been at work in my own experience. I thought somebody would care. They didn’t. That was my mistake.

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I Worry About Arthur

My phone rang about 3:00 last Saturday afternoon. It was Arthur. I could tell he was upset.

“Have you heard the news… about Rick Warren?” he asked.

I had not. From Arthur’s tone, however, it seemed clear that the news was bad. I braced myself for the worst.

Had Pastor Rick been killed? Or had he, like so many other prominent Christian leaders, fallen prey, God forbid, to the enticements of money or sex or power? I dreaded to hear what Arthur was about to tell me, and yet I wanted to know, to get past the initial shock in order to begin to assess the damage and consider the consequences.

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The Arthur Chronicles—No. 16 (Nothing Profound)

True to his word, Arthur called me on Friday morning, but it wasn’t to reschedule a time for us to meet. Rather, he wanted to tell me that he would be preaching on Sunday at a church where one of his former students serves as pastor. He said he would call me Sunday night to let me know how things went, and he suggested we could arrange a date to meet for coffee at that time.

Sunday came and went, and Arthur did not call. He didn’t call on Monday, either, nor did he answer the email note I sent him on Monday night. I called him around ten on Tuesday morning, and when my call went to his voice mail, I drove over to his apartment to make sure everything was okay.

DoorbellI rang the doorbell, but there was no response. Since the office where his wife works was not far away, I decided to drive by there and check in with her.

For nearly fifteen years, Ellie Lough has worked as the administrative assistant to the head of a small, church-related, non-profit organization near Columbus. She loves her work, but I have noticed that, since her cancer surgery and the subsequent treatment regimen, she often seems tired, a bit less bubbly and energetic than she used to be.

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A Desperate Plea And Bobby McGee

Have you ever been so discouraged about your circumstances that you went to bed thinking, “Maybe this will be the night when my sleep apnea kills me”? I was almost there last night. Disheartened when I went to sleep and disappointed when I awoke, or even that I awoke.

Don’t say it could never happen to you, that you could never become so despondent. I didn’t think it could happen to me either, but that was before I was fired from a job I loved because of the church I attended (or, more precisely, because of the church I didn’t attend). That was before I started my seventh decade of life already unemployed for two years, and now two more years have passed, and things have not really changed. That was before I spent two years and many thousands of dollars preparing for Holy Orders, only to conclude that there may very well be no place for me to serve in this new communion to which I have been drawn, to which I thought I had been led.

At 6:00 this morning, the last thing I wanted to do was Morning Prayers. Fortunately for me, the liturgical tradition (and this is one reason I love it so much) does not require a supplicant to achieve or exhibit any particular frame of mind or physical posture as a precondition for praying. So I fumbled around for my glasses, propped my not-yet-truly-awake body against a pile of pillows, and opened my Franciscan prayer book to the page appointed for this day, the Tuesday following the eleventh Sunday after Pentecost. And this is the first thing I read.

Blessed are You, sovereign God of all. To You be praise and glory forever. In your tender compassion, the dawn from on high is breaking upon us to dispel the lingering shadows of night. As we look for Your coming among us this day, open our eyes to behold Your presence, and strengthen our hands to do Your will, that the world may rejoice and give You praise.

That prayer had the effect of a glass of cold water in the face. I read it… no, I fervently prayed it… three more times. And each time I sensed the presence of God more personally and more real.

Next I moved on to the psalm for the day, Psalm 123, and I read (and prayed) these words.

To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant
to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
till he has mercy upon us.

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
    for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than enough
    of the scorn of those who are at ease,
    of the contempt of the proud.

That psalm was followed by this prayer.

Sovereign God, enthroned in the heavens, look upon us with Your eyes of mercy, as we look upon You with humility and love, and fill our souls with Your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

By this time, although no rules required it, I was on the floor with my face in the rug, fairly pleading with God. I prayed those words over and over. Fill my soul with Your peace. Look upon me with your eyes of mercy.

And then I closed the prayer book, veered away from the set prayer (although I had never prayed a more earnest prayer in my life), and began to improvise. No poetry. No flowery rhetoric. Just a simple prayer, but offered with an urgency akin to that of Peter when he found himself sinking in the waters of the Sea of Galilee: Lord, save me!

Lord, save me! I’m going under. I’m tired, I’m discouraged, and I’ve lost hope. Do something to let me know You are still there. Say something. Anything. Just please give me some sign that You have not abandoned me.

And He did. Perhaps the most immediate answer to any prayer I have ever prayed. He parted the clouds and loosed the bands that had fettered my spirit. My mind began to reel with possibilities where it had been stymied by the weight of my circumstances.

He reminded me that “all truth is God’s truth.” He assured me that He could use a wide variety of instruments to speak to me, in answer to my prayer, and He did. I’ll mention just two of them.

First, Wayne Dyer, known to PBS audiences as a dispenser of New Age wisdom who draws upon a syncretistic blend of resources as disparate as Taoism and the New Testament. Wayne Dyer would not normally be a source to whom I would turn to hear a word from God, but this morning God brought him to my mind. Or rather, He reminded me of something I had once heard Wayne Dyer say. And that was, “Don’t die with your music still in you.”

He made that comment, if I recall, just after he had summarized the story told by Leo Tolstoy in his classic tale, The Death of Ivan Ilyich. Near the end of his life, on his death bed in fact, Tolstoy’s protagonist, almost blinded by pain, cries out, “What if my whole life has been wrong?” Wayne Dyer allowed as how, from the moment he read that story, he determined that his life would not be lived wrongly, that he would not die with his music still in him.

Think what you will of Wayne Dyer and his philosophy of life, but that concept is a genuine truth. Nobody, least of all a Christian, should live life in a way that we die with our “music” still in us. I needed to hear that this morning, and God brought it to my recollection in response to my earnest plea for some evidence of His presence with me.

Second, Kris Kristofferson. Specifically, his great song, “Me and Bobby McGee” in which the refrain begins with the line, “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.” I heard God speaking to me in that line. He seemed to say, “You’ve got some music in you that you need to let out. You’ve got some truth in you which I’ve been teaching you over the past few years, and you need to share it. It probably won’t go down well with everybody who reads it or hears it, but what do you have to lose? You won’t be free until you share what I have given you to share.”

Or, to quote Wayne Dyer, “Don’t die with your music still in you.”

And so, through Wayne Dyer and Kris Kristofferson, I heard the voice of Jesus speaking to me today. In answer to my prayer. He touched me in my hour of need. And, if I am faithful, he may touch you through what I have to say, in this blog and through other channels, in the days ahead. Stay tuned.

Thank you, Lord, for answering my desperate prayer. Now, please help me to share, lovingly but boldly, the truth that You have implanted in me. Please don’t let me die with my music still in me. Amen.

The Best People I Know

In terms of both solvency and sanity, I feel that my life these days is hanging by a fragile thread. For four years I have been teetering on the brink in both of these areas. (As for the “sanity” part, there are those, I’m sure, who are convinced that I have teetered a lot longer than four years, but that’s another post.)

My best friend in all the world (aside from my wife) said to me the other day, “From a purely human point of view, you have ample reason to be really angry with God.”

While I acknowledged the wisdom in his observation, I did not share with him the fact that some days I am really angry with God. And the more I try to make sense of my circumstances, the angrier I become, until I hear that unmistakable “thwiiiinnnnnggggg” which tells me that I need to step back and cool off, because the tension on the sanity thread has almost reached the breaking point.

After he made that comment, I sat down to think about why it is that I have not totally surrendered to the impulse I sometimes feel to throw in the towel on the whole “God thing.” Or why I have not said to all those people who constantly encourage me to “hang in there”—”Hey, you hang it in your wall locker!”

It’s not simply the truth that, when I became a believer, God the Holy Spirit took up residence in my body, so that, try as I might, the power of God at work in me is greater than my human desire to renounce my faith. That is all very true, and I am grateful that it is, but there is something else at work too.

And it’s not just that, despite some unpleasant factors in my life right now, I must acknowledge the obvious: I have good health, I have a wife and a daughter and a grandson who love me and whom I adore, and I have some really great friends, like the one I referred to above, who care about me and pray for me regularly. It’s even more than that.

The New Testament book of Hebrews (author unknown) reminds us of a profound and unavoidable truth in chapter 12, verses 1-3.

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

The phrase, “such a great cloud of witnesses,” in verse one probably refers to that list of great “heroes of faith” which the author records in the preceding chapter. But I like to think that he (or she) also had in mind the faithful believers to whom we relate on more than a superficial level. People who care about us, look up to us, and watch carefully to see how we respond when life serves up something bitter or painful or unjust. People who trust us and rely on us to set an example of faithfulness and constancy irrespective of our circumstances.

In my case, if I define “great cloud of witnesses” in those terms, by far the largest contingent in the witness cloud would be the hundreds of students who took one or more of my courses during the fourteen years I served as a member of the faculty at Rosedale Bible College. It is to them, with gratitude and humility, that I dedicate this post, and in their honor have I chosen the title. They are some of “the best people I know.”

Rosedale Bible College is a tiny, two-year school in central Ohio, owned and operated by the Conservative Mennonite Conference. (If you are interested in the story of how I came to be associated with RBC, click the tab marked “Spiritual Pilgrimage” at the top of this post, and you will find it there.) Most of the students are Christian believers from the Anabaptist/Mennonite tradition. Most (but not nearly all) enroll right out of high school, sometimes mainly as a way of gaining a little time to think about what they want to do with their lives.

Unlike other Bible colleges which sprang up in the early- to mid-twentieth century, RBC has never been “vocationally oriented.” Most students enroll in order to take courses in Bible content, theology, Christian education, missions, music, etc., but generally without an expectation that they are preparing for vocational Christian ministry.

Owing to the specialization in its curriculum and to the fact that the school lacks “regional accreditation,” its credits are not readily transferable to many state universities and other liberal arts colleges. This means that most RBC students enroll with the full knowledge that, if they plan to complete an undergraduate degree in another school, their RBC credits may not transfer and, therefore, the time required to complete their education will be extended. That fact alone says a great deal about the quality and character and dedication of the students who attend RBC.

When I embarked on a career in vocational Christian ministry more than forty years ago, I never envisioned that any portion of it would be spent as a member of a college faculty. I never taught in any school besides RBC, so my experience is limited to a very small segment of the American college-student population. And I have not been in the classroom since 2008, and things have changed since then, even for RBC. But those disclaimers notwithstanding, I was privileged to have in my classes some of the finest human beings I have met in all of my life.

That is not a comment on RBC as an institution or me as a teacher. It is a comment on the quality of the homes and the parents who produced young adults of such stellar character and admirable devotion to Christ and His kingdom. Some of those homes sent two, three, or more students to RBC, and each one was a quality product. As a parent myself, I know the challenges associated with parenting, and when I reflect on the consistency and integrity exhibited by so many of my former students, my respect for their parents knows no bounds.

I’m not looking backwards through rosy-tinted glasses. Some of my students were (to borrow a phrase from my grandfather) “real knot-heads.” Not all of them were academically astute, but many were. Not all of them could make it at an Ivy League university, but very many of them could.

The students I had in my earliest years at RBC are now parents themselves and well-established in careers. Most are active in church life. Some are pastors and missionaries. Some are scholars and teachers. Some are farmers. Some have gone into medicine and health care or other professions.

Many have completed their undergraduate degrees, several at my own alma mater (which makes me particularly proud). More than one has earned a doctorate. Several have gone on to well-known and academically rigorous graduate schools and seminaries. At least one is even preparing for Holy Orders in the Anglican Communion!

But even more significant than all their accomplishments is the over-arching and undergirding fact that these were, and are, just really good people. Both individually and in the aggregate, they touched my life in profoundly important ways. I owe them a debt of gratitude which I shall never, in this lifetime, be able to repay.

I am grateful, too, for Facebook, which has made it possible for me to stay in touch with so many of them.

I miss them all, and I miss the experience of teaching them in the classroom at RBC. God brought that chapter of my pilgrimage to an end four years ago. So far, in His infinite wisdom, He hasn’t fully shown me why. But because I know that my students are still watching me, I keep trusting Him, in hopes that, sooner or later, I will understand.

In the meantime, I take immense satisfaction from the memories of my years at RBC and from the reports that continue to come to me of God’s faithfulness in the lives of my students. They are the best people I know.

To them I say, “Thank you so very much. Go on, now. Make me proud.”

A Misfortune, Not A Fault

This is the sixty-second post I have published since I started writing this blog last October. For a few weeks, I posted almost every day. Then I settled into a routine of about three posts per week. Recently, however, my productivity has declined even more, and this is only my second post this month.

That pattern is common among bloggers, so I am told. In fact, anecdotal evidence suggests that almost as many blogs have been abandoned within the first six months of their existence as there are PhD candidates who have given up on the degree although they were ABD. (That is, they had completed all the required course work and had only to write the dissertation. As a student in two PhD programs, I never made it past the first semester of either, so this comparison is a bit disingenuous on my part.)

I can understand why bloggers quit the business. Like any other worthwhile endeavor, producing a good blog (i.e. having something to say and saying it well) on a semi-regular schedule can be hard work. It seems likely that many who start writing a blog simply grow weary of the grind, especially when they learn that the average blog is read by fewer than two dozen people.

It’s true that a lot of bloggers fit the definition I read somewhere (probably in a blog)—”boring, self-obsessed narcissists who use their website mainly as a means to discuss the inconsequential minutiae of their day-to-day lives.” I mean, the case could be made that someone who is willing to pound out 800 to 1200 words per post on any subject simply because he (or she) believes that what they have to say is worthwhile and potentially transformative, despite the fact that it will likely be seen by only a handful of readers, qualifies as a self-obsessed narcissist.

I don’t think I am a self-obsessed narcissist. (But then, if I were, would I know it, or even more, would I admit it?) I put off writing a blog for years because I thought it was presumptuous and arrogant to assume that I had something that important to say. Eventually some persistent and persuasive friends convinced me that I should give it a try, and so I did. And the truth is, I love doing it. I genuinely enjoy writing this blog. So, why has the frequency of posts slowed down? I’ll tell you why.

Because I respect and value my readers too much to let this blog depreciate into a forum for my whining.

I have long known I am subject to periodic bouts of depression. I have never been officially diagnosed, I have never sought treatment, and I take no medication. (I did once mention my suspicions regarding my susceptibility to depression to a physician who was also a good friend. He gave me a few antidepressant pills which he had received as samples from a pharmaceutical company rep. I took two of them. They did help me sleep, but there were side effects that I could not abide. I never took another antidepressant.)

In an earlier era, my tendency to depression would have been labeled “melancholy temperament.” As a teenager I was simply called “moody.” I realize the potential seriousness of this predisposition, and I know it can be debilitating. I have been advised that it can intensify with age.

Some well-meaning but, I think, misguided “counselors” have suggested that all manifestations of depression (along with most other mental illness) should be regarded as a “spiritual problem” to be addressed with a combination of confession of sin and renewed commitment to religious devotion. I reject that conclusion. Rather, I believe that the sources and causes of depression are not fully understood, either biologically or psychologically, and that many people genuinely benefit from treatment by a professional, including, but not limited to, medication.

I also believe that anybody who could experience a job loss, the death of a parent, the life-threatening illness of a spouse, and the unmarried pregnancy of a daughter, all in eighteen months, without showing some signs of depression possesses qualities of super-humanity and super-spirituality to which I can only aspire.

It may be that I will need to consult a mental health professional at some point in the future (although I really think my “episodes” are less frequent than they used to be, the “dark periods” less intense). For now, however, I believe that the worst of my most recent crisis is behind me. In fact, I’ve experienced some “breakthroughs” in the past few days, and I’m eager to share some of that with you in the days ahead.

Still, the past couple of weeks have been difficult for me, and I was tempted to unload a lot of it on you by way of this blog. I even wrote a couple of posts which, I am now glad to say, never made it to publication. They were simply too bleak. I did, however, succumb to the urge to vent some of my melancholia on my Facebook wall. So a few days ago I wrote this:

“While I appreciate genuine expressions of encouragement and concern, I need to say this: The next person who offers me some form of ‘Hang in there; God is not finished with you yet; the best is yet to be’ will subject my Anabaptist convictions regarding nonviolence to a severe test. You may ask why. Do I question whether I still believe those things, or am I just sick of hearing it? Answer: Yes.”

Fortunately I came to my senses fairly quickly. That statement came down ten minutes after it was posted. And then, in the midst of some really gloomy days, I was still thinking clearly enough to conclude that it was not fair to impose my pessimism and sense of hopelessness on my blog readers. So I determined that, unless I could write something edifying, or at least positively stimulating in some way, I would simply write nothing at all. That is why I have published fewer posts recently.

Many well-known figures have suffered from depression, some almost incapacitated by it at times, and of these none is more renowned than Abraham Lincoln. Henry Whitney, a lawyer who traveled the legal circuit across Illinois with Lincoln, once said of the future president that “no element of Mr. Lincoln’s character was so marked, obvious, and ingrained as his mysterious and profound melancholy.” And Francis Carpenter, an artist who lived in the White House for a time in 1864, said that “Mr. Lincoln had the saddest face I ever attempted to paint.”

Lincoln recognized his propensity to depression, but he never allowed it to overcome him to the degree that he was unable to function. He was convinced that, whatever the depths of his melancholia at any given moment, he would emerge from it and continue to carry out the normal activities of life. In 1841, in a letter to the half-sister of his best friend, Lincoln wrote, “A tendency to melancholy… let it be observed, is a misfortune, not a fault.”

I believe that as well. And when I am in the throes of that misfortune, I shall give diligence not to inflict it upon you in these posts. And then, after the clouds have scattered and the sunshine has reappeared, I’ll be back.

The End Of The Glory Road

When I started writing this blog last October, I assumed that, from time to time, I would use this space to review books that I had recently read, or at least base my reflections on something I had read. I never expected that I would do what I am about to do… which is to base a blog post on the review of a book I have not yet read; a book, in fact, that has not yet been published.

Lauren Winner is, by Christian publishing standards anyway, a superstar. She is a professor of Christianity at Duke Divinity School, which, at age 36, is impressive in itself. But she came to the attention of the evangelical reading public with her first “memoir,” Girl Meets God, which appeared in 2002 (when she was, what, 26?). A few years later she wrote Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity, and her place among best-selling evangelical authors and on the lecture circuit was secured.

I do not mean to diminish either Ms. Winner’s talent or her accomplishments. I actually heard her speak at a conference in the Chicago area in 2006 and was sufficiently intrigued by her presentation there that I read Girl Meets God, a title I would not likely have otherwise been drawn to. And I’m glad I read it. Despite the title, the book’s insight is valuable for men as well as women. I did not read Real Sex, although I read several reviews, all mainly positive. I had not thought about Lauren Winner for awhile until I read a review, by Katelyn Beaty for Christianity Today, of Ms. Winner’s forthcoming title, her second “memoir,” called  Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis.

The book will be published next Tuesday, and it will be downloaded to my Kindle on that day. I look forward to reading it. In the meantime, Katelyn Beaty’s review is provocative and insightful enough, in itself, to merit both reflection and comment.

I remember thinking, as I read Ms. Winner’s first memoir, that it was a bit pretentious for a 20-something to presume she had lived long enough and gained sufficient experience that her ruminations could actually be of value to the Christian community. But they were. And after I got past that initial cynicism, and could see beyond some of the limitations which her youth and inexperience imposed upon her indisputable talent as a writer, I came to appreciate her honesty and gave thanks to God for her testimony of faith. I also wondered if the exigencies of “real life” would dull her enthusiasm. I hoped they wouldn’t leave her disillusioned.

According to her reviewer, Ms. Winner’s new book reveals that life has indeed taken its toll on both her psyche and her faith. Her first book described her initial experience as a Christian in terms reminiscent of a bride’s reflections on her wedding and honeymoon. Apparently her new book tells us that there never really was a genuine honeymoon. She had thought that her early encounter with evangelical Christianity (she had previously embraced the Judaism of her father) would be an exciting excursion along the “glory road, and I thought that road would carry me forever,” the reviewer quotes from the book’s preface. “I didn’t anticipate that, some years in, it would carry me to a blank wall.”

And it is that kind of honest admission that caught my attention as I perused the review of Winner’s book. Lauren Winner came to the painful reality which most, if not all, Christian believers eventually encounter. Unlike most of us, however, she is apparently willing to acknowledge her predicament, admit her own failures and unrealistic expectations, and grapple with the doubts and disappointments she has faced. She writes,

The enthusiasms of my conversion have worn off. For whole stretches since the dream, since the baptism, my belief has faltered, my sense of God’s closeness has grown strained, my efforts at living in accord with what I take to be the call of the gospel have come undone.…Once upon a time I thought I had arrived. Now I have arrived at a middle.

I applaud her honesty. I have been there too. In fact, we all have. But there is something about our “church culture” that prevents us from facing up to the fact that our faith has not been all that we had expected or desired. Rather than grappling with that reality, however, most of us settle into a humdrum pattern of spiritual mediocrity, putting on a happy face at church but hiding a gaping emptiness inside.

Our churches should be hospitals where the pain of disillusionment and disappointment—with ourselves, with our friends and family, and yes, with God—can be acknowledged and healed. Instead, they are too often little more than social clubs where superficial smiles and cursory exchanges cover over the doubts, the questions, the longing for something more and the fear of admitting that in front of all those who, outwardly, seem to have it all together.

I am looking forward to reading Ms. Winner’s story. The reviewer indicates that Winner has emerged, to some degree, from the depths of her despair, from that time when God seemed totally absent. But she has not regained that almost giddy enthusiasm of her initial days as a believer. Her new book apparently reflects her continuing love of Christian liturgy which, according to her reviewer, “reorients her to the biblical story… and often provides Winner the faith she can’t muster.” That is my testimony too.

Lauren Winner reminds us that there are unexpected twists and turns along the glory road. We may feel that we spend more time in the ditch than on the highway. The church will be a better place, however, if more of us will honestly admit that we are weary from the travel, our throats are scratchy from the dust, and sometimes we can’t see where the road is leading. The journey to the kingdom is often just one plodding footstep after another. Admitting our weariness, our doubts, our disappointments, our weaknesses and failures will go a long way to easing the grind of the sojourn. We can’t find rest until we admit we are weary. We can’t be healed until we acknowledge we are in pain. And we won’t fully experience the salutary benefits of the body of Christ until we are willing to grant that sometimes we simply can’t understand the predicament we are in. We need each other to get us through the times when our faith is weak, and Lauren Winner has shown us how to take the first steps to restoration after we come to the end of the glory road.