Faith and the Hiddenness of God: a book review

Unhappy circumstances set Tony Kriz thinking about the way God hides. His four-year-old nephew, Ransom, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of liver cancer. Kriz prayed that God would show up and hold Ransom’s hand–through treatment and through death. This set his mind thinking on his own journey and the way he has sensed God’s hiddenness throughout his life. More accurately, Kriz recounts the way God ‘shows up’ unexpectedly just beyond his grasp.

This is a memoir of doubt and faith. Kriz recounts how he sensed God’s presence when he was a child and said the sinner’s prayer to receive Christ. He also tells of how a well-meaning Sunday School  teacher caused him doubt that experience. He describes how his growing doubts during his teen years swallowed his child-like-faith whole. When he left for college he had every intention of leaving Jesus behind but God pursued him. So in college his faith deepened through prayer meetings, Bible study, mission trips and joining a fraternity (because God told him). These were the ‘dojo years’ and he felt the nearness of the Master. But when Kriz went out into the world his faith again became untethered. He threw himself into Christian missions and an activist faith. Kriz reveals that part of his activism was an attempt to get God to notice him. He ends up broken, needy and abandoned. There is one encounter where Jesus came to him in a real way but mostly Kriz felt abandoned and alone. Thankfully this isn’t the whole of Kriz’s story. He comes back to faith and begins to sense this Hidden One in rest, in waiting, in the shyness of the Spirit, on learning to encounter God on His terms, in community and in all things.

I gave as bare-bones of a sketch as I could. Kriz’s story is worth reading for yourself. Kriz has given us a gift of opening up his journey and reflections to us (these reflections were intended first for his nephew Ransom). With searching honesty he traces his tenuous faith from childhood to his forties. With searching honesty he reflects on answers to prayer along the way and experiences of Divine intervention, but he never lets these become easy-proofs of God’s Presence.

Kriz’s story is much more impressive than mine–both in its highs and lows. Yet I relate to some of the unrequited desire  to meet God and to experience him intimately. His uneasy faith and seasons of doubt reminded me of difficult spells in my own walk. Like Kriz, I cannot point to anything in my history that ‘proves God’ but like him I have come though to a place of strong(er) hope.

This is the second book from Kriz that I read. Neighbors and Wise Men was another memoir that recounted parts of his story and how Kriz was nurtured back to faith through unlikely people. This book is more personal. It is sadder in some respects, but no less hopeful. I highly recommend this book. Five Stars.

Notice of material connection: I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

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