Many consider Jerry Bridges as one of the top Christian authors in the past 30 years. I would be one of the many. His first publication, The Pursuit of Holiness, is the first Christian book I read after getting serious about the Lord, between my junior and senior year of high school. I was hooked. Since that time, I have been blessed by his gospel-saturated writing in his books. He was gospel-centered before it was cool to be gospel-centered.
I'm probably wrong, but it would not surprise me to learn that his books have been read and studied in different bible studies more than any other author. Because of my appreciation for his thinking and writing, when I saw he had come out with a new book, I quickly grabbed it and read it in one day. That was several months ago.
God Took Me by the Hand is a great read. It is so different from any of his other books as it is his memoirs. In this book, he shares his life story, from how God opened his eyes unto salvation to his struggle with many theological concepts to his career ambitions. Throughout it all, he shares God's providence of being actively involved in his life in all aspects.
The providence of God is a doctrine that we do not talk much about these days. That's unfortunate. At the beginning of the book, he shares some insights into this doctrine and then throughout the book, shows how God was actively involved in every twist and turn of his life. Here are a few thoughts he has about the the providence of God.
"God's providence is His constant care for and His absolute rule over all His creation for His own glory and the good of His people . . . To say that God rules can give us an image of a king ruling from his throne, making major decisions but basically unaware of the day-to-day events occurring in his kingdom. But to say that God rules over His creation is to say that He controls all events and circumstances. Absolutely nothing can happen outside the controlling hand of God" (19).
But God's providence is even more than this. He goes on to say . . .
"God not only controls all events and circumstances, He directs all of them so that they accomplish His purposes. God is 'hands on' in directing the affairs of His creation . . . God not only directs all things to accomplish His purposes, He orchestrates all diverse events, things we consider 'good' and things we consider 'bad,' so that the end product displays the beauty of His glory" (20-21).
These may not be easy doctrines to swallow or understand, but in each of these thoughts, Bridges shares verse after verse in support. My goal in this review is not to defend this doctrine (maybe that will come later). But I wanted to show the premise of the book, because in conjunction with these thoughts, he shares the significance of common and special grace in understanding God's hand in our life. The way he weaves these truths throughout his life's story is something special. It is something that is noticeable as you look back on life. As the old adage goes, "hindsight is 20/20 vision."
I won't share much of his life in this review. If you have enjoyed his writing ministry, you really should read it. He ends the book with this thought:
"I do know that for over sixty-five years God has been leading me by His invisible hand of providence, most of the time in fairly routine ways and sometimes in remarkable ways. But whether it was routine or remarkable, God has been leading me. I trust Him to continue to do that until He calls me home. Someone has said, 'Everyone has a life story, but not every story gets written.' I have written mine, not because my story is particularly important, but because it so clearly and so consistently over the years illustrates the unusual providence of God in the life of a very unpromising young boy. As you read this, I hope that you can see why I say, it seems that when I was seventeen years old, God took me by the hand and said, 'Come with Me'" (147-148).
As I read his story, it made me think of how I have witnessed God's hand in my life in the past. One of the things I took from this book is my desire to remember my past. I think it is way too easy to forget how God has been active in our life. I want my kids to know how much God has been involved in my life. And if you are interested, I wouldn't mind you knowing it as well. And so, I think from time to time, I'm going to write some things on the blog here as a way to remind myself and encourage others as how God's hand has been active upon my life the past 40 years (yes, I'm 40 years old).