Publisher and Publication Date: P & R Publishing. February 28, 2019.
Genre: Christian Nonfiction. A personal study of the Gospel of John.
Source: I received a complimentary pdf copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: Christian readers who are looking for a personal study on the Gospel of John. Some of the teachings address: courage, fear, anxiety, abuse, betrayal, stress, shame, affliction, broken in spirit, failure, and restoration.
Abby Hutto’s written interview: Author Interview.
In the introduction, Hutto gives statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health.
“In 2016, an estimated 16.2 million adults in the United States reported having had at least one major depressive episode during that calendar year.” Page 10.
That statistic stopped me because I can relate. My husband went through a major depressive episode from mid 2014 until 2017. He refused medicine the doctor prescribed. He refused help. He refused to talk about this to anyone. He was diagnosed earlier this year with major depression. For the first time, he is on an antidepressant. As his wife, this has been a hard journey; hard to watch and hard to know what to do. But I prayed. And still pray. And, I trusted in God. and not an outcome.
Hutto asks, “Where is God when we are afraid? The Bible tells us that he is in our corner and on our side.” Page 11. Hutto answers this question through her teachings from the lives of various people in crisis.
In God For Us, thirteen chapters teach who God is for, using the Gospel of John as the Scripture text. The chapters target a specific person in crisis. For example, in the first chapter: “A God for the Distant.” The Bible text is John 1:1-18. The illustration is a person who grew up in a Christian home, but her heart is distant from God. She does not understand the concept of God’s saving grace, and those who are still lost and suffering. She fears God. She does not have a close relationship with Him.
In God For Us, Hutto takes each illustration and text, and reveals “the intentions of God.” His plans are personal and aimed at developing our heart.
God For Us is a deep book. I took twelve pages of notes. I’d read a chapter and think, “this is the pinnacle of the book.” Then, I’d read the next chapter and think the same. This is a book to read, study, and savor. It is definitely a book for strong conversation in a small group.
At the end of each chapter is “Scripture for Contemplation” and “Questions for Reflection and Discussion.” I’ve noticed most books that have questions for discussion are five or so. In chapter one, ten questions are given.
I love it that there is a building in the chapters of who God is and how He reveals Himself to us. “Jesus is God narrated for us, telling us what the Father is like.” Page 22.
Chapter Four: The “I Am” statements are taught. This chapter is titled: “A God for the Wanderer.” Beautiful and deep statements from Hutto touched my heart.
“In his teaching, he connected himself to the rich traditions of the feast and revealed something wonderful about his Father: God has come to find us in our desert. Even more astounding is this: God has a purpose for us in our wanderings. Nothing is wasted with him. In our deserts we come to know him, the Great I am, as he truly is.”
The word “wasted” has been a large sign blinking in my mind (like a neon flashing light.) All these years (36) I’ve spent with a man who has a mental health issue, and he has acted out in ways that are not for the weak of heart. I’ve felt a feeling of wasted time. Time that cannot be recovered. And, what is the purpose of all this? Is it possible there isn’t a purpose and I’m a lame duck?
God For Us is a book where the reader will identify with the people used as illustrations. I certainly have.
Another quote from this chapter, and it is from Paul Miller: “God takes everyone he loves through a desert. It is his cure for our wandering hearts, restlessly searching for a new Eden.” Page 64.
And some of the last words from this chapter: “This is what God produces in us during our wandering-fertile ground that is yielding glory.” This is my answer to the feeling of “wasted.” God is producing in me a “fertile ground” that is “yielding glory.”
God For Us is a powerful book. It is a book that speaks to the heart on a personal level.
•A theme is the Gospel message.
•It is written with compassion and humility.
•A meditative book.
•A great introduction to the Gospel of John.
•An excellent source for recovery groups.