If you haven’t heard of Rhonda Byrne’s bestselling The Secret by now, then we want to know your secret! How did you do it? While Byrne’s book has been touted by everyone from Oprah to the New York Times bestseller list, it also has received its fair share of criticism.
In THE SECRET THINGS OF GOD, Dr. Henry Cloud isn’t as interested in challenging the ideas of THE SECRET as much as he is in sharing a Biblical perspective on what he considers the true secret things in relationship to God. Cloud believes that Byrne’s book is a sign of the spiritual hunger and curiosity in our culture. He says that its popularity suggests interest in two things: an understanding of that which is invisible, including the nature of the universe, and a hunger to discover principles and practices that make life work. Convinced that the Bible provides insights and answers for both desires, Cloud has produced a thought-provoking how-to book based on Biblical principles.
Discovering the secret things of God begins with knowing God and building a relationship with Him. Cloud shares his own discovery of a relationship with God and how that impacted his life. He also draws on a strong lineup of personal stories and interactions. After the first few chapters, the book becomes extremely practical as he examines some of the “secrets” of living life from the Bible.
Cloud believes there is no such thing as being disconnected and happy. He highlights the importance of healthy relationships and the need we have for each other. Cloud writes, “God did not intend for us to be alone. One of the secrets of our faith is that our God, who made us in his image, is not isolated. He does not exist by himself. He exists in relationship and always has.” This belief is supported by research that has found that people who are connected to others have better brain development and immune systems. They are less susceptible to struggles such as depression, addiction, anxiety and illness.
In addition, Cloud unlocks “secrets” about relationships. He offers practical advice, like misplaced trust opens the door to misery and good relationships come from having the skills to produce them. He encourages readers to listen and validate before all else and says that “good and mad” actually can help preserve a relationship.
Near the end of the book, Cloud directs his writing back toward God. He writes that God desires a personal relationship with all of us. He reminds readers that God is for you, not against you, and does not want you to live life feeling guilty. In the end, obeying God --- whether we like it or not --- is good for us and leads to the best possible life.
Overall, THE SECRET THINGS OF GOD is well-written and offers lots of practical advice and insights on how to live a healthy, rewarding life. It is a great conversation starter regarding issues of faith for anyone who may have read The Secret. The teachings and insights are timeless, and the packaging of the book is a knockout.
Reviewed by Margaret Oines on September 4, 2007