God of Surprises: If there’s one book I’d recommend…
My one book is God of Surprises by Gerard Hughes. I first encountered this book in my early twenties and have returned to it regularly over the last 15 years. It has been a useful tool at significant times of change, particularly when I got married and later when I chose to change careers. It uses a series of spiritual practices to explore God’s character. Each time I’ve used it I have been challenged in my view of God and drawn closer in relationship to Him. I can also recommend reading it with someone else close to you or in a small group, using it as the basis of discussions.
The book is based on Ignatian spirituality, which uses contemplation and imagination to explore what God might be saying through the Bible. The author himself is a Jesuit priest. Each chapter is themed around a different characteristic of God and our relationship with Him. Each chapter also suggests practical ways we can encounter God. A summary of the chapters is as follows:
Chapter 1: Gives a general look at the fact you locate God’s spirit internally.
Chapter 2: The stages of development we take in reaching God.
Chapter 3: Some of the false images of God we have.
Chapter 4: Looks closely at the role of prayer in drawing us close to God.
Chapter 5: Shows that a journey with God must be complete and whole and cover every aspect of our lives.
Chapter 6: Looks at what it means to make first tentative steps of prayer and encountering God.
Chapter 7: Other practical methods for encountering God in prayer.
Chapter 8: Coping with disappointment when we do not meet God.
Chapter 9: Recognising Jesus in us.
Chapter 10: Looks at what it might be to live in Jesus.
Chapter 11: Seeing Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection in our life.
Chapter 12: How we can meet Jesus in our everyday decisions.
Chapter 13: How we deal with fear and what being a Jesus follower might mean.
For me, particular highlights are in Chapter 3, on how we often build a false image of God and the dangerous consequences of that, and Chapter 12, which has some great tips on discerning God in decision-making, which I have found particularly useful at crunch-time with big decisions. It’s not often I can say a book might change your life, but this one genuinely can!
If you’ve got one standout book that you’d recommend, email us a review of it. We’ll edit it and post it online so that others can benefit and have their journey with God enriched.