As I was preparing for a recent sermon on the brokenness of Jesus and His Church, I thought a lot about the whys and ways our Christian culture resists the idea of being broken or suffering. We have very little room in our pews for brokenness, even broken brothers and sisters in Christ. It seems the American Church, like me, has quite a low tolerance for pain. We like our churches like we like everything else from schools to shopping centers: sanitary and safe.
Greg Lucas’ Wrestling With An Angel arrived in my mailbox just when I needed an in-the-flesh reminder of Jesus’ promise to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in your weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Turns out that in my current season of struggle what I needed was not a pain reliever but a healthy dose of grace. Greg Lucas and the folks at CruciformPress have packed a lot of grace into this 108 page capsule.
Honestly, this is one of those book reviews which finds me a little speechless (those who know me know that takes a lot). I can’t say enough about this book, yet I don’t want to say too much. There are so many delightful surprises in Wrestling I’m afraid to give too much away. So, I want to highlight a couple of facets and let you discover the rest of this treasure yourself.
- A Story of Love and Disability: Read this book and you will fall in love with Jake, the severely disabled teenage son of police officer Greg Lucas. Every chapter is a story that tells Jake’s story, and his dad’s story, and God’s Story of grace through Jesus. I was captivated from page one and spent one Lord’s Day afternoon captivated by every chapter. As soon as I finished it, I gave it to my wife (who has her own story of pain) because I knew she would love it, and she did.
- The Storyteller: Greg Lucas is a gifted storyteller. Well crafted sentences. Well chosen words. Keep the tissues handy as you read, but prepare to laugh with Greg as well. Lucas took me on an emotional roller coaster ride, but when the adventure was over, I got right back in line for a second ride. And like Jesus, Lucas will immerse you into a story and pull you back out sopping wet with truth and glory. Lucas’ writing is so vivid, I felt as if I was on the mat wrestling God vicariously through his stories.
- Lessons of Grace: Here’s just a sample of the many “amazing grace” lessons Lucas has sprinkled throughout his book . . .
- “Grace is like that, you know . . . it exposes our weakness in order to give us greater strength” (pp. 12-13).
- “I am grateful that humility comes naturally with disability–I don’t even have to pray for it. It just shows up when I need it most, or when I think I don’t need it at all, which is usually when I need it most” (page 41).
- “I know from Scripture and experience that it is always dangerous to be God’s child. We seek to exercise simple dependence on God’s ultimate deliverance, but along the way pain, suffering, and sometimes even death become ways in which God can be most glorified in our difficult lives” (page 78).
- “True desperation is always the most fertile ground for God’s grace to produce an abundant harvest of hope” (page 87).
- “My own disabilities have been revealed through Jake’s amazing life, and I have been shown that from disability God can create depend-ability, the strength that comes from admitting my own weakness and depending on Him who has all power” (page 98).
Finally, I must mention two other jewels in Lucas’ treasure chest:
- Wrestling with a difficult question: One theological question that has been a conundrum for centuries is how people who lack certain mental capabilities can ever profess faith in Jesus as He is offered in the gospel. Lucas deals with this question beautifully because he has wrestled with it personally. You won’t hear a much better explanation than his.
- A clear presentation of the gospel of grace: The message of the cross is woven throughout the book. As Lucas himself says, “All of these lessons have been studied in the shadow of the cross–the greatest display of victory over disability and weakness the universe has ever beheld” (page 98).
Like Jacob, Greg Lucas has wrestled with God and has walked away with a limping love for His God that offers grace to all who read his story.
Wrestling With An Angel is a Christmas gift to the Church. The Body of Christ needs these stories of grace. When you order your copy, go ahead and order multiple copies (there are bulk discounts) because you, like me and my wife, will be giving this book to others. If you know someone who is struggling to understand the heart of God in the midst of unimaginable suffering and heartbreak, give them Wrestling With An Angel.