Let Hope In by Pete Wilson is a good book with a misleading title. It is filled with wise words for living out the life of faith, but it’s not really a guidebook to hope, so much as the author’s thoughts on Christian basics. And they’re good thoughts.
For example, early in the book, he says this about shame: “Shame becomes an identity that drives us forward into self-abusive actions…. shame is not produced by past events. Shame is produced by what we believe about those events.” This sets up the theme of these chapters: how what we do with the events of our past has a huge impact on our experiences in life. How do we think about difficulties and disappointments? How do we forgive when necessary? How do we let God transform us and our perception of these events and the larger story we’re living?
“Throughout life,” he says, “we will face one situation after another that will be completely beyond what we can handle.” He goes on to quote Brennan Manning: “Anyone God uses significantly is almost always deeply wounded.” Through all of this, the central issue, he argues, is not what we are doing – to fix ourselves, to heal, to prove our capacity in the world – but what God is doing. That’s the interesting part of the story.
Perhaps the strongest chapter of the book is toward the end, where the author shares his love of gardening. He talks about how much effort he puts into his garden, and how this makes him think of a chapter in the Gospel of John, where Jesus describes his father as the gardener. The author doesn’t say this directly, but what came to mind for me is that the life of faith is a lot like gardening: we know some of the things to do, and we learn more and more throughout our lives if we’re willing. But there is a huge part of the process that remains a mystery, where we just have to wait and see what happens.
So I guess my favorite part of this book was the way some of his thoughts and stories prompted new thoughts in me. It’s worth the read.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.