Where the Light Fell by Philip Yancey–Book Review

I’ve read many books by Philip Yancey, and he is an excellent writer. This one also did not disappoint, but it is a little different. It’s Yancey’s personal memoir of his childhood, youth, and how he came to faith, and after reading it you will understand why so much of his writing is focused on the themes of suffering, pain and grace.

Philip and his brother were raised by their mother after their father died of polio. His parents had hoped to be missionaries, and his mother remained devout. She told her sons that she had “dedicated” them to God, just as Hannah in the Bible gave her child Samuel to the Lord. She wanted them to become missionaries, fulfilling the desire she had been unable to accomplish in her own life. As a consequence, when they failed to measure up to her expectations, she was disappointed and behaved in ways that left them feeling angry and rejected.

Although Philip attended a Bible college, he saw himself as a rebel and outsider. He could not embrace his mother’s extremely legalistic approach to God, and comes close to rejecting Christianity altogether. However, eventually, he has his own conversion experience and comes to know Christ in a whole new way. Even as he rejects his mother’s viewpoint, he tries to understand, forgive, and encourage her to reconcile with his brother.

VERDICT: 4 STARS. It bogged down in places, but overall is a very honest, vulnerable and well-written spiritual autobiography.

The Lutheran Ladies received a free e-copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CPR 255.

For more book reviews see

Duty of Delight (the Diaries of Dorothy Day) edited by Robert Ellsberg –Book Review

The Gravity of Joy by Angela Williams Gorrell–Book Review

Forgiving What You Can’t Forget by Lysa Terkeurst–Book Review

More Than One Angel by Billie Hughes Locke–Book Review

Billie Hughes, who wrote this book, was the speaker at our congregation’s Valentine’s Day Dinner this year.  A friend purchased her book for me, and I finally had time to read and review it.

Anyone who has experienced difficulties in relationships will empathize with Billie’s story.  She was a difficult child in a neglectful family.  She ran away to marry as a teenager.  By the age of twenty-one she was the mother of four children;  one child died and another was born with serious facial deformities.  Her marriage ended, and she leaped into a second marriage that was also difficult.  Eventually she divorced again.  Billie said she didn’t need just one angel, she needed a band of them!

Throughout her life, Billie struggled to educate and improve herself.  She obtained a high school diploma and became a master barber with several shops of her own.  Somewhere along the line, she began to realize that God, not material success, is the key to contentment.  She prayed and studied the Bible. She learned to forgive She realized that her basic problem is trust and commented:

“How could I trust someone I couldn’t even see, to handle my life?  Everyone else in my life had always had more important things to do than care for me.  Why would God be different?”

She admitted that her theology was mixed up, but it was a start.  With a third marriage, she achieved a more peaceful life and became a writer and speaker, emphasizing that God can do the impossible and any life can turn around.  Her book is sprinkled with small miracles and what I call God-cidences, that lead her to a deeper relationship with Him.

I find a couple of big problems with this book.  First, nowhere in Billie’s faith story does she mention a church, Pastor, or community of other Christians.  Possibly, she has these things, and simply didn’t talk about them, but I would find that unusual.  In my experience, I have learned and grown the most when in a relationship with other Christians.  We need to be mentored and to mentor others.  (Hmmm… remember our “one-anothers” monthly theme?).  Billie does have some Christian friends who influence her, but I get no sense of the stable, progressive Christian growth a church home provides.

Second, I am disturbed when near the end of the book, Billie makes this statement to her son:

“You are the master of your destiny at this point.  Everything you really need is right inside you.  All I can do is pray for you.”

This is definitely some mixed-up theology.  God is the master of our destiny, and all that we need is in Him, not ourselves.  It is another example of stinkin’ thinkin’ that sounds good, but doesn’t stand up to correct doctrine and interpretation of the Scriptures.

My Verdict?  Two stars.  Read it if you want to enjoy Billie’s story, but not for sound theology.