Grace Choices (by Jeff Lucas)

I’ve very much liked the books I’ve read by the Christian writer Jeff Lucas, over the past few years. He writes in a self-deprecating way, combining low-key humour with some thought-provoking wisdom. So when I spotted one I hadn’t read, inexpensively available from the AwesomeBooks site, it wasn’t a difficult decision to order it.

‘Grace choices’, subtitled ‘Walking in step with the God of grace’ is rather different from other books I’ve read by this author. It feels a little heavier, for one thing. Not that it’s a particularly long book - under 200 pages in paperback - but it took me a while to get into it. The introductory chapter takes us to a book signing, demonstrating the startling contrast between two women in the queue. One was knowledgeable - even passionate - about Christianity, but scared: afraid to laugh, worried that God was going to strike her at any moment. She believed in the doctrine of grace, but seemed not to experience it in her life. The other, wheelchair-bound and with a long history of abuse, was full of laughter and life.

So, the author proposes, we make our choices - not to suffer or not, but in how we respond to them. It’s not always easy to respond gracefully, or even to notice God’s grace. Believing in grace poses more questions than it answers. But still, he believes that we can find and experience grace in everyday life, sometimes in the midst of horrendous suffering, if we are willing to watch and listen.

It took a while to get going. In the first couple of chapters it felt as if the author was rather labouring the point. It wasn’t turgid, exactly, although that word occurred to me. But rather slow and wordy. Perhaps, though, it’s impossible to introduce the topic in a way that even begins to express the amazing, outrageous nature of what God’s grace really means.

Subsequent chapters introduce different ways to look for grace: in beauty, in other people, in the church, in the world. I don’t think I read anything that was new to me, but there were some useful reminders. Lucas writes about accepting and giving forgiveness, being open to touches of unexpected grace, about being the means of grace to those around us. He shares personal anecdotes, and by the time I was about halfway through I was finding it interesting, and - in places - thought-provoking.

It’s well-written, and there’s plenty to think about. But I didn’t find it as moving or indeed as relevant as Philip Yancey’s classic ‘What’s so Amazing about Grace?’ which covers similar ground. Still, well worth reading for anyone who struggles with the concept of grace, or (perhaps more importantly) who finds it difficult to experience grace in day-to-day living.

Review copyright 2017 Sue's Book Reviews

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