Life in the Big Story – Your Place in God’s Unfolding Plan – Heidi Johnston

Paperback, 192 pp. Published by IVP, Norton Street, Nottingham, NG7 3HR, UK. Price £8. 99. ISBN 978-1-84474-579-1.

‘What a refreshing change this is’. So writes a well-known academic, author, and Bible teacher in his endorsement of this book. Indeed this is a volume which will perhaps offer some surprises for some readers. It encourages readers to confront the big questions of life and of our place in it – questions about each individual’s significance, purpose, and destiny. But who would think of looking in the book of Deuteronomy for answers to such questions? Our author does – with considerable impact, and without employing ecclesiastical and theological terms which might be off-putting to her target readership.

The book consists of seventeen chapters of about a dozen pages each, with headings such as: ‘Why bother with obedience?’, ‘Fear and Freedom’, ‘The call to holiness’, ‘The Word became flesh’. In retracing Israel’s history, the author allows the book of Deuteronomy to describe the crisis points in that chosen nation’s relationship with God, and identifies the precise parallels in His dealings with our own generation. She knows the value of understatement, and the power of ‘sweet reasonableness’, being content, when appropriate, to let the facts speak for themselves. Her method is deceptively simple, and uncomplicated; she takes some of the main events in Israel’s history, explains their significance, reinforces the lessons with illustrations taken from everyday life, and applies those lessons to ourselves. At the end of each chapter there are some questions suitable for group discussion, together with scripture references.

The Foreword informs us that this volume ‘takes both believers and seekers on a pilgrimage to discover the meaning of our individual stories – our identity, our purpose, our destiny’. Although the book is aimed at a younger readership, its message transcends age groups: for the unbeliever, a call to repentance and faith; for the believer, the challenge of holy living. That the answers to life’s most important questions are to be found in scripture, and ultimately in our Lord Jesus Christ, is the theme of this book.

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