My hunch is that because you’re a reader you are already familiar with the name Philip Yancey. He has more than 15,000,000 books in print, translated into more than fifty languages, making him one of the most widely read Christian authors ever. Yancey grew up in a Fundamentalist church in south Georgia and it was so toxic it nearly cost him his faith in Jesus. He would be a young adult before he came to peace with the meaning of grace.
Some of his books are classics, like “Pain – The Gift Nobody Wants,” and “Church, Why Bother?” Some of them are hyper-classics. Books like, “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” and “Where Is God When It Hurts?” You likely won’t agree with everything he writes, but you’ll be challenged and blessed.
He is not easily intimidated. There are fifty four mountain peaks in Colorado that are higher than 14,000 feet. Yancey has climbed all but three of them. He’s in his early 70’s now so he may not make it up the last three, but don’t be surprised if you hear that he has.
Recently he developed a desire to condense the message of Scripture into a pithy, one-sentence summary. He wanted to understand the heart of the Bible narrative so that the twists and turns of its six-millennia journey could be distilled into a single, remarkable sentence. Yancey had a friend whose family owned a cabin in the Colorado Rockies, and Yancey asked if he could use it. With only a change of clothes, some food, and his Bible, he went there determined to do nothing but pray and read the Bible through. In two weeks.
Starting with the majesty of the creation, then the tragedy in the garden in Genesis 3, Yancey followed the heartache that the rebellion brought to God. Adam and Eve could not grasp the price sin would cost, but God knew. God would walk with them each evening for worship. But they lost access to that daily ecstasy when they decided to say No to God.
Through rebellion, defeat, rescue, the storyline unfolds. Through rebellion, defeat, rescue, we stand with mouth open at His relentless pursuit. Tenacious quest. Unrelenting mercy.
But it was as Yancey approached the cross he found the summary statement he was seeking, that one awesome insight that would peer into the heart of God and encapsulate the journey: “Can we be friends?” Don’t you love that? Just four words. I wouldn’t be surprised if He’s asking you that same question. Right now.
By Don Jacobsen