Turning Back to what Matters Most
Mark R McMinn
Category: Prayer and Spirituality
This is an enigmatic book, gentle yet powerful, simple yet profound, bringing with it an immense challenge. McMinn's basic premise is straightforward: our hearts yearn for home. Within each of us there's a sense of incompleteness, of having not yet arrived; like the prodigal son, we've lost our way. Contemplating Rembrandt's famous painting, he observes,
The home the Prodigal Son longed for—and the one we all seek—is a place of secure love, known most fully in the embrace of God. (from the introduction, p.3)
The challenge McMinn sets before us is to acknowledge this yearning, to reach out in so doing, to explore its implications for our relationships, for every aspect of our lives and, ultimately, to return — like the prodigal son — to the Father's embrace.
The book has four parts: Part 1, Contours of Home, explores the pull towards home that we all feel. In many ways the themes of this section are so obvious that they barely need stating. Yet stating them and looking at them afresh serves to heighten the reader's awareness, preparing the way for the journey ahead: like hitchhikers, we're on a disjointed journey — we have a destination in mind, but no certainty about when or how we're going to get there, who we'll be travelling with or even whether we will in fact make it.
Part 2, Looking Back, encourages us to remember. Here McMinn calls upon all his experience and wisdom as a Christian psychologist to challenge our perceptions of the past. He encourages us to take hold of what's gone before, to acknowledge things that we might wish had never been. Rather than hide from the past, we can face it, secure in God's love:
If God is with us, it means that human understanding can be rooted in something bigger than an individual's life and ancestry. Looking back is not just a matter of contemplating our personal histories, recalling our childhoods, talking about past joys and trauma. Looking back is much bigger. In the darkest times of life, when there seems to be no light of hope to be found, we can look back to centuries gone by and reach out to the people of faith who surround us today and claim the truth that God is with us then, now, and always. (from chapter 5, "Being Remembered First", pp.85-86)
Rather than "forgive and forget", McMinn insists that the path to spiritual wholeness requires us to forgive and remember.
Part 3, Looking Around, calls us to an awareness of our present situation, to discover our true selves in God and, secure in this discovery, to find our way home in relationship with those around us. Relationships are fragile but none are so broken that the grace of God cannot repair the breach.
Finally, Part 4, Looking Up, reminds us that in our present situation, in whatever chaos life throws at us, we can look up to God: "God is with us, revealed in Jesus, inviting us to come as we are, clothed in the messiness of humanity." (p.169). But this is not the end: as good as it may get, this life is not "as good as it gets" — heaven awaits, our final home where "what we want and what we have will be perfectly aligned." (p.172)
Finding Our Way Home is an intimate journey in which the author shares much of his own personal travels and points us onward, to our home in God the Father's all-encompassing embrace of secure love. It's not always a safe journey if your view of safety is to always hide from threats and danger: but it's a journey that's well worth the risks.Order Finding Our Way Home from Eden.co.uk
Phil Groom, October 2005
Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.
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