Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Worrier's Guide to the Bible - Book Review

I have looked forward to reading this book since I first caught wind of it several months ago on Facebook.  Gary's Following The Truth website, articles, and radio visits are fantastic, so I had the bar set pretty high for his first book; and I have to tell you, Gary sailed over it.  A Worrier's Guide to the Bible: 50 Verses to Ease Anxieties is on my Christmas list for quite a few people.

It's a subject that is always relevant but at this moment in history, when our Church, country, and world seem deluged by difficulties, Gary brings the message of Scripture to us in a fresh, honest, energizing wayAs the subtitle of the book says, Gary unpacks 50 Bible verses that, if interiorized, will free us from worry and anxietyThis isn't pop psychology but an opportunity to ground ourselves in God's truth, the really Real.  "These are [the Lord's] words and they mean something. Like a parent who responds to a child’s 'why?' with, 'Because I said so,' the Lord is telling us not to worry about these things. And looking at this realistically, doesn’t it make sense that the Lord knows best? ... let’s look at why Jesus’ advice is solid and how it can be followed." 

And Gary does exactly that, illuminating each of the 50 verses with unflinchingly honest stories from his and his family's lives.  Having read Gary's blog for some time, I can tell you that he is no stranger to trials.  "Hard-wired for worry," Gary has been learning about God's desire to calm our fears and carry us through for decades.  He has grouped the 50 verses that have spoken most deeply to him into seven areasConfusion, Despair, Doubt, Fear, Persecution, Sickness, Trials &Tribulations.  What a great way for readers to find what they need in the heat of the moment!

I was impressed by the pattern Gary chose for the book.  First, he quotes one of the 50 verses.  Next, he digs into it, explaining its original context and how it has been understood by the saints down through the centuries.  Then he shows how God used this truth to help set him free from anxiety.  And finally, and most importantly, he puts the reader directly into contact with God, leading them in prayer that the Lord seal this truth in their hearts.  That's lectio divina, an ancient form of prayer - read Scripture, meditate deeply on its message, and speak to the Lord in response, so as to achieve a transforming union with Him (contemplation)!

Let me finish by saying that Gary Zimak is a gifted writer.  He is able to weave profound ideas into stories that anyone can relate to - comforting, encouraging, and challenging us as he goes.  I believe that A Worrier's Guide to the Bible is destined to do a lot of good.

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