Nancy Guthrie is well known for her books detailing her personal journey through loss and pain after her two infants died of a rare genetic disorder. Her husband and older son have traversed through unimaginable pain and sorrow, which makes her particularly qualified to write on matters of the heart as it pertains to clinging to one’s faith during life’s most difficult seasons. Guthrie’s newest work, THE ONE YEAR BOOK OF DISCOVERING JESUS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, is clearly an ambitious and wonderfully presented resource, whereupon readers will keenly sense her heart and voice on every page.
Guthrie hits the mark every time in this thoroughly researched and exquisitely detailed work, as she draws vivid and important parallels between Old Testament figures and Christ’s message of redemption and hope. Divided into five sections --- Pentateuch; Historical Books; Poetry and Wisdom; Major Prophets; and Minor Prophets --- amazingly Guthrie manages to highlight the “high points” of each Old Testament book. As she notes, “the entire Old Testament tells a story that only finds its completion in Jesus Christ.” So readers can be surprised and delighted as she finds the links between very flawed and humanly weak biblical characters (and their frequently sinful choices) and how Jesus, the Redeemer and Healer, rescues them (and us) in multi-faceted ways.
Guthrie offers a different section of scriptural focus on each of the 365 pages with a neatly summed-up essay on the who, what, where and when of the specific story. She then ties in New Testament principles with these stories of old (giving readers many “aha” moments). Closing out each devotional is a capstone of powerful prayer that brings it all together. This is where Guthrie’s personal journey as a Christ follower shines brightest as she offers unguarded, utterly self-revealing prayers that move the heart and mind closer to Jesus (and to recognizing our desperate need for Him every day, every moment of the day).
One fine example of how Guthrie writes to make the Old Testament “real” to today’s readers is to bring life to faith. Here she writes, “Real faith is honest. Real faith struggles. And it is real faith we hear from the psalmist as he cried out to God: ‘From the depths of despair, O Lord, I call for your help. Hear my cry, O Lord. Pay attention to my prayer’” (Psalm 130.1-2). She then discusses these emotions, citing that they are deeper than depression and gloom; the psalmist had “sunk down into the depths of distance from God and darkness toward God.” As she notes, no one can come to God unless they first enter the depths; then comes redemption through Jesus. Here Guthrie expounds upon the transformation in the psalmist’s soul from despair to finally hope, and she continues this overarching theme throughout this lovely text: a Christian’s hope is always and only in Christ alone.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on October 1, 2010