I don’t usually get super excited about Christian books. I think this is because there are sooooooooo many Christian books being pumped out every month. More and more, it seems like books are more about the author’s platform than about the quality of the writing itself. If you have a lot of Twitter followers or a big YouTube channel, you get a book. You get my point. Stepping off soapbox now.
This means that when I read a really good book, I take note and I tell others. I recently read Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed In Our Weakness by Barbara Duguid, and I was blown away. This book should be mandatory reading for every Christian, especially every recovering legalist like myself.
Two things stick out to me. First, Duguid is extraordinarily transparent about her sin, which makes her seem all the more real as a person and author. She makes it clear that she is no spiritual superwoman. Rather, she is a sinner who struggles with gluttony, anger, and many other sins. Her transparency made her words both very relatable and very encouraging. She is not a Rambo Christian who slashes her way through life. She is another weary pilgrim on the way.
For fifteen long and torturous years I was very fat. By “very fat,” I mean clinically obese: 140 pounds overweight. I would have done anything, and indeed tried everything to overcome this sinful obsession with food. I was a faithful and sometimes highly successful member of Weight Watchers. I attended every Christian weight loss group I could find, read every book, prayed, journaled, fasted, and paid expensive counselors to help me overcome this problem…
[because of the struggle] I was becoming more patient with my husband and kids. If I was still failing over and over with a simple thing like eating, then I would have to give others permission to do the same in their areas of weakness.
Her point with this illustration, and others like it, is that God uses our weaknesses to make us more like Christ. God uses our failures to give us a broken and contrite spirit, which He treasures. As someone who is terrifically weak, I found that idea very compelling.
The second thing that sticks out to me is her view of sanctification as a long, slow, up and down process that is rooted in the finished work of Christ. She says:
Wherever you have sinned and continue to sin, he [Christ] has obeyed in your place. That means you are free to struggle and fail; you are free to grow slowly; you are free at times not to grow at all; you are free to cast yourself on the mercy of God for a lifetime…You have great reason to hope. God is faithfully at work in you and he does change his people. He may change your desires and relieve your battle, or he may give you peace and joy in the midst of thoughts and desires that don’t change.
Buy this book. It will encourage you in the midst of the struggles of everyday Christian life. It will build your faith. It will give you fresh joy in God. You won’t regret it.