Over the 4th of July holiday weekend, I visited a local bookstore and picked up a copy of Jerry Bridges’ new book God Took Me By The Hand.
For many reasons, I have been greatly anticipating the release of this particular book. As I sat down one early morning to read it over the holiday weekend, I was not disappointed. A rare experience for me, I actually read the entirety of the book in one day. I simply could not put it down.
Why I Am Personally Grateful for Jerry Bridges
Mr. Bridges is 84 years old. He’s been walking with the Lord for over 65 years. There is a wisdom, grace, and spiritual maturity that comes from one who has been walking with Jesus for so many years. I’ve met Mr. Bridges personally and have been impacted by his humility, his reverence for God, and his personal appropriation of the goodness of God and the gospel of grace. I’ve heard him teach several times, and the simplicity and profundity of his teachings and writings have greatly impacted my spiritual life over the years.
On my bookshelf, among others, are the following books:
The Pursuit of Holiness
The Practice of Godliness
The Discipline of Grace
The Joy of Fearing God
The Transforming Power of the Gospel
The Gospel for Real Life
The Fruitful Life
The Bookends of the Christian Life
So, what makes this book unique from all the others?
God Took Me By The Hand is, in my view, the most personal of all of Mr. Bridges’ books. The book is actually structured as a personal recounting of the providence of God in Mr. Bridges’ life.
Mr. Bridges writes,
“When I was seventeen years old, it seemed as if God took me by the hand and said, ‘Come with Me.’ And for more than sixty-five years, God has, as it were, continued to hold my hand and lead me in the path He has marked out for me… There have been lots of times when life has been hard and discouraging, but through it all, I see God’s hand drawing me along the path He ordained for me before I was born… The purpose of this story, then, is to explain, illustrate, and exalt God’s providence… so that believers will come to recognize and appreciate more of God’s work in their own lives” (pages 11-12).
Following this structure, the book gives the reader a sensation as if he or she is sitting in the living room with Mr. Bridges, enjoying a cup of coffee and conversing around the glory of God’s providence displayed throughout his years of walking with Christ.
Mr. Bridges describes four physical defects and deformities he was born with (e.g. he was cross-eyed, with an underdeveloped right inner-ear, and he had abnormalities in his breastbone and spine among other physical difficulties he coped with throughout his childhood and adult life). He sees the providence of God in it all:
So I was born physically exactly the way God wanted me to be and to parents who were poor, uneducated, and socially isolated, all because that was the plan God ordained for me before I was born. But if you fast-forward my life to the present, you have to be amazed at what God has done for a cross-eyed, partially deaf boy growing up in poverty alongside the railroad tracks… Furthermore, all that God has done, He has done solely by His grace” (Page 17-18).
Throughout the book, Mr. Bridges describes the circumstances leading up to his conversion, his entrance into the US Navy, his providential passing of naval hearing test (through a make-shift hearing exam administered through a naval officer), his introduction to the Navigators, his conversion to Christ, and his invitation to write and teach.
In the account of his life, suffering is intermingled with joy, and hardships are mixed in with God’s blessings and grace. As I read the book, I found myself reviewing the 37 years of my own life and thanking God for His quiet providence that led me to Christ and to where I am today. I also found myself wondering at what the future may hold as I continue to walk with Jesus. It definitely had a comforting, encouraging, strengthening, and inspiring effect on my own soul.
For any Christian seeking to grow in their faith and awareness and appreciation of God’s providential working in their own lives, I highly recommend God Took Me By The Hand.
Like me, you may not be able to put it down.
Question: Have you read God Took Me By the Hand, and if so, what effect did it have on your own soul? What other books by Mr. Bridges have you read, and how have you benefitted from them?