When I first received this book by Dr. John Townsend, I have to admit that I wasn’t too terribly excited. Although I have heard Townsend on the radio and have glanced through a few of his books in the Boundaries series, I was still not quite sure what Townsend’s approach would be as he dealt with a question often asked by many, “Where is God?” For example, was I in store to read nothing but Freudian psychology “baptized” with Scripture? Was I going to hear nothing but heart-wrenching stories aimed at gaining an emotional connection with the reader, but with little dealing in weightier matters? After reading his work, I was pleasantly surprised that neither was to be the case.
Townsend begins his book by discussing a two-sided spiritual experience while on a trip to Antarctica. His experience had him feeling exalted at the snowy scenery, but frightened when his sightseeing team encountered danger. This experience helped him to identify with those who ask, “Where is God?”
Townsend tackles the hard issues in this book. He is brutally honest and open about sin as the cause of some issues and recounts his own life and experiences of those who he has ministered to in the past. He is extremely biblical. As he travels from chapter to chapter, however, I began to find that Townsend was not attempting to provide solutions, only observations about struggles and sin. That is, until I read chapter nine.
Chapter nine is probably the best one in the book and the turning point for me in my assessment of the work. This chapter, entitled, “The God Who Transforms You,” brings biblical insight and wisdom to the forefront. That difficulties and trials bring character to the believer is clearly taught in Scripture, and Townsend expands on this concept to allow the reader to understand this important concept as he moves on to his next concept. During trials, Townsend writes, one is to do the opposite of what may “feel” right: run to God and His Word. Build your character in Christ, Townsend rightly claims, and you may be more equipped to deal with the difficulties of life.
Even more, Townsend continues from this chapter with the same sort of biblical advice for the various issues he identifies. He offers Scripture, application, and real life examples. Finally, Townsend concludes the book with a practical wrap-up of sorts to help the reader apply all of the material to his or her life. Though it is a bit short in content, the chapter is helpful and useful for the reader.