BOOK REVIEW:

Grace Notes: Daily Readings with a Fellow Pilgrim by Philip Yancey

I found this daily devotional very satisfying and inspiring…reminiscent of Frederick Buechner's work. It consists of excerpts from Yancey's other writings, some of which I had already read. I've added some others to my To Read list.

To me, the strength of this book–as is true for most of Yancey's writing–is its honesty about doubts, fears, questions, and how religion plays out in a real life. I found it to be clear and powerful as he shared his ways of dealing with doubt, faith, temptation, and hypocrisy:

“In my spiritual journey as well as in my writing career I have long lingered in the margins, pondering unanswerable questions about the problem of pain, the conundrums of prayer, providence versus free will, and other such matters. When I do so, everything becomes fuzzy. Looking at Jesus, however, restores clarity.”

“…Satan's power is external and coercive. God's power, in contrast, is internal and noncoercive…God became weak for one purpose: to let human beings choose freely for themselves what to do with him.”

“…only love can summon a response of love, which is the one ting God wants from us…Love has its own power, the only power ultimately capable of conquering the human heart.”

“But we dare not make sweeping claims about the promise of God's intimate presence unless we take into account those times when God seems absent. The great saints encountered it, Job encountered it, and at some point nearly everyone must face the fact of God's hiddenness.”

Yancy states, “I have cast my lot with a gospel based on grace.” Yet even in this statement, Yancey acknowledges the danger of falling into the trap of doing whatever we want because we've already been forgiven. “An individualistic society America is in constant danger of freedom abuse; its churches are in danger of grace abuse.”
If you have trouble setting aside quiet time for God, using a daily devotional may be a good place to start since it's a small time commitment that can reap great rewards.  A devotional of this sort is, by its very nature, just bits and pieces of wisdom and inspiration, but it touches on the core issues that a Christian faces in life, and it offers insight into ways that a seeker can strengthen his/her connection with God. This starts…and ends…by intentionally drawing near to a God who, Yancey believes, yearns for us as much as we yearn for Him.

Do you have a regular practice or routine that helps strengthen your connection with God? Please share as a comment.

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