“Tables in the Wilderness” Review

17 Oct

Last month I saw a post by Preston Yancey in which he mentioned giving away copies of his new memoir to pastors. I love books and love free things so I reached out. I received a signed copy of his book the following week.

Preston wrote “a memoir of God found, lost, and found again.” One thing that stood out to me in the first two chapters was the similarities in our stories. We are both pastor’s kids with moms that suffer from a chronic illness. We are close in age (I’m 26, he’s 25). We’re both bookish and a little sarcastic. (If you follow Preston on Twitter, you’ll find this out quickly with his affinity for gif responses) We both have wrestled with faith and doubt.

The thing I appreciate about Preston the most is his willingness to be honest and take a stab at sharing what God is up to in his life. He has taken considerable criticism for this. People have written Amazon reviews saying that he lacks the perspective of someone their age. (Isn’t it neat that they’ve arrived) Some have said he will change his mind as time goes on. Tangentially bats are nocturnal. Far from being a weakness of the book, his proximity to this early period of his life is a thing that makes the book stand apart from others in the genre. It is easy to say in retrospect, “Clearly this is what God was up to when that church plant failed.” It’s harder to do that when you’re only a few years removed from the event. In “Tables in the Wilderness” you get a close look at what it’s like to be 25 and trying to figure out how God is working in the raw material of your life.

There were times that were frustrating reading the book. I found myself asking, “Why are you wavering so much?” or “Get over this already” or “You blew it!” More times than not, it was a frustration misdirected. I wasn’t frustrated with the book or Preston. I was frustrated with how eerily similar I have been–how I’ve screwed up or been needlessly hard on myself and created reasons why God couldn’t use me. It is important to remember this is memoir and not a book of theological how-to’s. This is someone’s story. 

Preston is bright and well-read and it shows in the book. Anyone who has wrestled with God and his perceived silence will appreciate this book. Someone who is trying to figure out God’s will for their life will identify with Preston’s story. Evangelicals interested in liturgy will find much to be interested in. There were so many beautiful parts in the book of God breaking into the mundane.

Thanks for sharing your story, Preston. Keep being honest. The world needs that.

(Oh, and thanks for sending me the free copy.)

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