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I was given a free copy of this book for purposes of review. All opinions are 100% my own
Death by Living, a book by N.D. Wilson, is a rich experience for the imagination, for soul and mind and spirit. The writing in this book is so beautiful and powerful that you find yourself wanting to agree with every word. This can, of course, be dangerous. Let the the reader be advised to carry his brain along with him if he allows his soul to be moved by these words.
I would make one addition to this book, and it is a matter of emphasis. To live in such a generous, poured-out way as the author describes is impossible on our own, if our own hearts are the wells from which we draw. We must abide in another, live with hands open, ready to receive from God. And we do receive, as the author so beautifully describes, through the daily blessings that surround us. But even more than this, we are told to receive God where He has promised to meet us: In His Word. This seems to be assumed, and is occasionally demonstrated in this book; yet, it is such an important concept, I think it needs to be stated explicitly.
Life is Meant to Be Spent (so says the subtitle of the book,) and Wilson makes his case not by preaching or argument, but by engulfing the reader in a new way of seeing.
Through his eyes I saw the floating specks of dust, the cosmos, and my grave, and I was made tiny. Through his eyes, I saw the thread of grace and of Providence that began at Adam and runs right here to my kitchen table. I saw The Story, the Body given for me, the God who stoops, and who even now, fills my hands and gives me my lines.
Through his eyes, I saw my children, hungry for story, for soul-food, which I am now eager to give. I saw the wet concrete of today poured out before me, drying quickly. I saw God’s spoken words, his art, everywhere, and I meditated on His meditations.
He showed me the river, the one I can’t stop from moving, the one that refuses to allow me to put down my anchor. He understands why I gather moments, and knows it is both futile and necessary.
And the finish line: he made me look at that, too. Though his eyes I saw death’s color over all of life, the threat and the inevitability, the grief, the dust; and I saw the Conqueror and the triumph, and the resurrection. I heard the whooping and the music from the parade.
Then, Wilson left me back in my kitchen, here in today. But my vision has been corrected, and his words linger. Arms in the dishwater, I am living my story, and I can still hear this challenge:
Live fully and loudly; live receiving and giving; live as created, loved art, made by God who gives, God who stoops. Life for and in and towards Jesus who died and lives for you. And prepare to die, because you will die. But today, live.
Lord, we flail. Forgive the lies we tell from purple thrones on TBN. Forgive the lies we tell in shrines. Forgive every attempt at self-redemption, the holy efforts we call our own, all the clawing we call resurrection. Bury us. Take us to helpless dust. Then roll away the stone and call us by our names. Make us all Lazarus. (125)
By His grace, we are the water made wine. We are the dust made flesh made dust made flesh again. We are the whores made brides and the thieves made saints and the killers made apostles. We are the dead made living.
We are His cross. (167)
Bear us home, Jesus, and may our stories in your Story be written well.
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