Matt Bays describes such devastating ruins that you wonder how anybody could survive living in them, and then he describes such a strange and tender God who inhabits the ruins. A God who enters the horrible scenes, who draws near and stays near - and that's his tenderness- but who doesn't instantly end the pain for the suffering- and that's his strangeness.
The phrase "Life sucks and then you die" may not be true, but it sure feels like it sometimes. And what good does it do us as Christians to pretend otherwise? What are we doing for God by acting like we can easily reconcile everything that's wrong with the promise of salvation and redemption?
I believe in all the best words- GloryGoodnessMercyPeaceJoyHopeLoveRedemption. I've seen them come to life around me already, and I expect to see more of them the longer I live. But I've also seen things that suck. If I, as a well-cared-for young person, wonder how to put the pieces together, then what must somebody with a past of greater hurt and harm think?
Who will bother to talk redemption with the people who live in the ruins? Matt Bays will. He knows what ruins look like, taste like, smell like. He also knows that if God IS, then he IS whether any human believes it or not. A God who knows his way around the ruins doesn't wait for a personalized invitation card before he drops by the human heart. God might come your way the same way tragedy did- unexpectedly, and altering all of life.
On a personal note, I especially loved the way Matt spoke about his sister. I don't see how any reader could leave this book and not whisper a prayer for her in her fight with cancer.
So. If you know that faith requires honesty if it's going to be more than a nice idea, and if you believe that hope is capable of staring hard at reality and still existing, then this is a book for you.
I thank David C Cook and Litfuse Publicity for my review copy.