Tuesday, April 03, 2012

book review: Journey on the Hard Side of Miracles by Steven Stiles

I have, in the last year since getting my Kindle e-reader, read many books that I never got around to reviewing. In way that's a shame (for me) because I find I gain a whole lot by going through the review process. It certainly helps me recall books in a way that simply reading them never does.

So I have decided in the next little while, to write mini-reviews of at least some of these books. I will start with cover copy, and follow it up with a few of my own impressions.

Today's book is one I have just finished:

Title: Journey on the Hard Side of Miracles
Author: Steven Stiles

Cover copy:

"We had been WARNED, but we had only wanted to serve God. The truth was that not one person had a clue what would actually happen when we first boarded that tired old bus. With two hundred easy miles to our destination, there was little cause for concern. Yet somehow, despite every effort, our humble band of Jesus People never got there—and we never really found our way home.

Wandering for years, and struggling deep on the hard side of miracles, we knew we must not turn back, for every mountain climbed, every desert crossed, every dark valley and peaceful place of rest revealed an unseen Traveler, the One to whom the journey belonged.

There is a reason to listen to the Shepherd. There is a reason to stay close."

My impressions:

This was an interesting account of a group of Santa Cruz Jesus People who had their beginnings in the Hippie movement of the early '70s. They performed concerts for youth groups and did street ministry around the U.S. using a couple of re-purposed school buses as transportation. Later they set up a church and ministry centre which focused on helping people in crisis from addiction, mental health, and family issues. New Life Centre in Santa Cruz, California continues to this day.

The miraculous happenings that accompanied their travels (and which often involved those school buses) were truly remarkable. But more than the focus on unusual events, I appreciated author Steven Stiles' approach to such miracles. Over and over he emphasized the fact that God performs miracles not for our convenience or comfort, but for His purposes—which often remain inexplicable. In his own words:

"I have come to believe that those special miracles that shake our preconceived realities, and even those quiet miracles we may see day by day, are not for entertainment purposes. They are memories to be cherished, lessons to be learned, and counsel to receive.

They cause our knees to bend and our hearts to yield. They are a privilege to see, and they tell us, sometimes when we need to hear it most, that nothing can or ever will happen in our lives unless it is allowed by the Good Shepherd" - Steven Stiles, Journey on the Hard Side of Miracles, p. 10.

I downloaded this as a Kindle book when it was free. I see it is now $.99. What a bargain for such a faith-building read! (It is also available in paperback and in other e-book formats at Smashwords)

Violet Nesdoly / poems
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