Many books that feature a narrative voice start with some longing or hunger of the heart that the author will eventually resolve. You might imagine that Margaret Feinberg sets the stage by describing a period of spiritual slumber when she feels disconnected from God. She realizes her lack, prays “for wonder,” and then writes topical vignettes of God coming through for her. By the end of 10 chapters, she has discovered the wonder of…divine expectation, God’s presence, creation, rest, prayer, restoration, friendship, forgiveness, gratitude, and abundant life. The chapters generally stand alone, somewhat like blog entries, building on one another only tangentially.
"WONDERSTRUCK is a comfortable read, with low-key challenges --- principally that readers go online at the beginning of any upcoming month and join others in a 30-day 'challenge to experience God more.' This is a worthy endeavor, whether one joins an online community or not."
Many chapters combine anecdote with scriptural teaching, often reflection on a biblical story or character. The discoveries of God close at hand --- awakening to the nearness of God, as the subtitle suggests --- are written winsomely, rightly suggesting that God’s touch of wonder is as close as a fingertip. And yet, curiously, several of the chapters are set in far-off lands, Europe or Africa, and tell stories of people she has met in world travels.
A particularly interesting chapter, on prayer, walks us through Feinberg’s discovery of Lent. For a season, she felt God challenge her to change her pattern of prayer and pray only three-word phrases or sentences. At the end of her discussion of the Lenten experiment, she explores the format of the Lord’s Prayer, comparing benefits of the short and longer modes. The chapter on friendship ultimately focuses on a piece of furniture --- an unusual, rustic door-turned-table --- that she senses draws out conversation and allows her and her dinner guests to relax and show their true colors. The forgiveness chapter gets very personal, showing her efforts to forgive someone whose embezzlement had cost her financial hardship.
Margaret Feinberg is a good, solid writer, and people who look for her will likely resonate with her journey. WONDERSTRUCK is a comfortable read, with low-key challenges --- principally that readers go online at the beginning of any upcoming month and join others in a 30-day “challenge to experience God more.” This is a worthy endeavor, whether one joins an online community or not.
Reviewed by Evelyn Bence on January 15, 2013