Debbie Macomber’s fiction is consistently on secular bestseller lists. She knows how to tell a good story with a women’s audience in mind. In recent years, she has broadened her scope, turning now and then to inspirational nonfiction titles. GOD’S GUEST LIST invites readers into her life, introducing people who have inspired and encouraged her, tested and tried her in ways that God has used to strengthen her in character and faith.
The book’s premise is interesting. Admitting that she’s a list maker, Macomber took the advice of Jack Canfield and made a list of 30 people --- famous ones --- who she wanted to meet in her lifetime. (It seems she has met them all.) Being disappointed with some of these unnamed characters, she sensed God asking her to start a new list of 30 people, not necessarily notables: “put down thirty more spaces, but leave them open for the people I want to send into your life.” This she calls an “unfinished guest list,” or a list of the guests God sends into her life. A page at the end of Chapter One gives 30 empty lines, for the reader to fill in, with her own future God-sent “guests.”
The “list” setup is hardly mentioned again, the subsequent chapters covering by category people who have influenced her (similar categories of people having influenced most of us): wisdom givers, strangers, ancestors, mothers, fathers, extended families, boyfriends and husbands, children, childhood friends, and business associates. Each chapter features a piece of Macomber’s own life; you are introduced to her family circle, her ancestry, her professional network. She also includes more generic vignettes, for example, about John Wesley’s mother and Abraham Lincoln’s, about an Olympian runner’s wise high school track coach, about the “unforgettable story” of the father of motivational speaker Tom Krause, about the grandmother of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Chapters end with a section marked “RSVP,” in which readers are asked to consider how to examine “our own potential influence in the lives of others.” Just as God brings people into our lives, God sets us among others; we become part of their life “guest list.”
Macomber has given us a book that is capital-letter Inspirational, of greatest interest to readers who know and like her previous work. If you’ve enjoyed her fiction, which she admits has changed over the years, I think you’ll like the person “behind the pen.” The final chapter introduces one’s best guest, Christ himself, in a way that invites readers to welcome Him into their lives.
Reviewed by Evelyn Bence on November 13, 2011