Different people turn to different Scriptures in times of spiritual and emotional distress. Some turn to the Psalms. Others turn to stories of deliverance and healing in the Gospels and the book of Acts. Very few people turn to the book of Jonah when they are enduring the most difficult season of their life. In the book Surprised by Grace: Godís Relentless Pursuit of Rebels, Tullian Tchividjian shows his readers how the Book of Jonah brought him comfort and renewed his soul. In the process he demonstrates how God not only offers us the opportunity to be saved by grace, but God calls us to live by his grace on a daily basis.
The layout of the book is relatively simple. This is because the structure of Surprised by Grace generally follows the outline of the short, simple prophetic book of Jonah. Jonah really reads like a drama, with each chapter revealing a new scene. Then, after the author digs into the content of Jonah, Tchividjian spends the final couple of chapters putting the story of Jonah in the broader context of Scripture and of our twenty-first century lives.
I loved this book. It was an enjoyable read for a number of reasons. First, the author does a beautiful job of bringing in a broad range of resources that inform about the story of Jonah. He quotes liberally from the commentaries of John Calvin, the sermons of Charles Spurgeon, the poetry of Robert Frost, and the writing of Herman Melville. Tchividjian also does a great job of informing the reader about artwork created around the story of Jonah. In the process, the author explains how that artwork teaches even more about what God is doing in the life of Jonah. The careful research and its skillful incorporation into this book make Surprised by Grace not just informative, but also beautiful.
The whole purpose of the book is found in the title -- Surprised by Grace. The author shows throughout that God is constantly reaching out with his love and his grace. By the end of his study Tchividjian says ďIíve come to see that I still need to experience the ongoing, liberating power of the gospel in a new way every dayĒ (p. 156).
God uses Jonah to reach the people of Nineveh because he loves everyone. The Lord uses Jonah instead of anyone else because Jonah needs to be transformed by the mission God has set before him. He gives us the book of Jonah in Scripture so that we will know that nobody is outside of Godís plan, and that he wants engage us in a life of transformation through offering us His acceptance and affection for our whole lives. Ė Clint Walker, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
As Christians today keep struggling to fully grasp the gospel's incredible breadth and power-both for themselves and for the changing world around them-Surprised by Grace carries a liberating message that forces us to come to grips with the shocking extent of God's compassion and mercy.
This astounding truth is something God pressed into the epic life-story of a man who defiantly resisted it. His true story is retold in Surprised by Grace, a gripping presentation that will open your eyes wider than ever to God's relentless, promiscuous, and inexhaustible grace.
The man's name is well known-it's Jonah, the Old Testament prophet. This fresh portrayal seeks to recapture the staggering effect the story had on those who first encountered it so many centuries ago-the same shock effect that's desperately needed today among those who think they know God's heart far better than they really do.