All The Places To Go: How Will You Know?, by John Ortberg
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
With its Dr. Seuss-inspired cover and its frequent silly rhymes, I at first thought this might be a children’s book, as I am known to read and review from time to time . Yet despite its youthfulness, which in part I approve of, this particular book is a serious examination into God’s will, a subject of great personal interest . At times the seriousness of this book is at odds with its lighthearted and flippant tone. It is almost as if the author expects that readers would be bored by a deep discussion of theology and philosophy, over wrestling with the weightier matters of divine providence, and so the author views it necessary to translate scripture with a certain casual and slangy air, and to recast biblical dialogue into rhymes that are almost worthy of being sued by the estate of Dr. Seuss. And yet despite the breezy approach, there is material of substance to be found, if one is willing to dig.
At its heart, this book takes the approach that God is more concerned about who we become than about what specific choices we make. We need not rack our brains over worrying about what job or what girl, specifically, is God’s will, only to be committed to being open to the adventure that comes with following God, being open and honest and vulnerable one’s weaknesses and imperfections with the goal of overcoming and growing in grace and wisdom and knowledge, building faith as one practices God’s ways. The book is full of revealing personal stories, and also is well-organized in its efforts at showing various responses to God’s will, which combine humor and at times deep insight. Among the insights, and one that is often forgotten, is that it is far more important that we live with principles and virtue than that we be given the knowledge that will still our anxious hearts, as much as we might want that anxiety to be somehow lessened.
That is not to say that this book is perfect. It is difficult to determine exactly who this book is meant to appeal to. It would seem to be a promising book about God’s will for a teen reader or college student whose knowledge of theology and philosophy is limited, who does not mind the rather casual way the author discusses biblical stories and a wide variety of cultural and historical trivia, but who is willing to commit to a life of adventuresome service to God and who has love and career on the mind. Admittedly, it has been some time since I was at the place where the author’s approach would appeal to me. More seriously, the author neglects the fact that God has often told people to stand still and see the salvation of God. By leaning too much into going and not enough into persistence and the character development of perseverance, the author at least implies that the solution to much of life’s drama is to go somewhere dramatic, when it may be to stay and develop character where one happens to be. Sometimes the most important adventures are the ones where the growth comes within over the gradual course of time and overcoming.
 See, for example:
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