Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pressing Into Thin Places: A Book Review

About The Book:



Is there sustaining comfort to be found for the suffering, perhaps flailing, faithful? Dr. Margaret Wills, Ed.D, asserts that there is, and in her book, Pressing into Thin Places: Encouraging the Heart toward God (Brown Christian Press), she invites questioning, thinking, and hurting readers to recognize glimpses of wonder and to draw strength and find rest in the presence of a loving God.

Dr. Wills knows from her own experiences that life is not simple and that we all need encouraging words and reasons to hang on to hope. She offers these in abundance in this deeply personal, beautiful, and thoughtful work that summons authenticity and contemplation while soothing the dark night of the soul with kindness and truth. With transparency and refreshing gentleness, Wills tackles universal fears, disappointments, wounded relationships, and even death and beckons readers to pull aside the veil and to see into that "thin space," as the Celtics called it, where all that separates heaven and earth becomes almost transparent. She invites readers to wrestle and be comforted by assurances of God's love and goodness even in the darkness.

Pressing into Thin Places is a collection of stories from the author's personal experiences, punctuated by her poetry and infused with biblical verses and rich truths. Wills answers questions like, "How do we keep from falling into despair when pain and suffering weigh heavily upon us?" and answers honestly questions about doubt, mystery, and the experience of not knowing. Wills offers insight for bringing biblical truth to life, wisdom to cultivate a listening heart, encouragement for the downhearted, reassuring words for the faltering, and comfort and rest for those in any stage of their faith journey.   

A portion of the proceeds from the sales of Pressing into Thin Places will go to the John Brown University Center for Relationship Enrichment.

About The Author:

Dr. Margaret Harrell Wills grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. She received her undergraduate degree from John Brown University, a master’s degree from Arizona State University, and a doctoral degree in higher education with a teaching field of history from the University of Arkansas. She was on the faculty at the University of Arkansas in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and taught American History. Dr. Wills is also a graduate of Chuck Colson’s Centurion Program for Worldview Leadership, an intensive and demanding education program that prepares Christians to articulate and live out their faith with authenticity and to lead effectively in the marketplace of ideas.

A writer and a poet, Dr. Wills is dedicated to the ministry of encouragement and helping people experience hope, wisdom, and faith in their spiritual journey. She has written for a number of publications, including The Journal of the Fort Smith Historical Society and Issues and Inquiry in College Learning and Teaching. She previously served on the board of the Arkansas Community Foundation as an appointee of Governor Mike Huckabee. She has been a guest lecturer in the Leadership and Ethics Program at John Brown University and has spoken on the topic of "Leaving a Character Legacy."
Dr. Wills makes her home in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in Fort Smith, Arkansas, with her husband, Paul.

Q and A With The Author:

Q: Your book is titled Pressing into Thin Places. What is a “thin place”?

In the Celtic tradition, a “thin place” is the place where the veil that separates heaven and earth is nearly transparent. It is a place where we experience a deep sense of God’s presence in our everyday world. A thin place is where, for a moment, the spiritual world and natural world intersect. It can be a sudden momentary awareness or profound unexplainable experience.

Q: Pressing into Thin Places is a collection of stories, experiences, and learned truths expressed through poetry and prose. How are you hoping that readers connect with the experiences shared and those “thin places”?

Through the book I wanted to share a few “thin place moments” and encourage readers to have eyes to see the gifts of thin places through their own experiences. There are moments when we do feel the divine breaking through into our world. We feel unified and connected with God. It is not an intellectual knowing; it is felt in the spirit. Every once in a while, God draws the curtain and lets us see. He gives us reminders that, though we are tethered to this earth, there is another realm of reality just as real. Every once in a while, He lifts the veil. He thins the space between heaven and earth. He lets us experience the “thin place.” Ultimately, He helps our faith.

Q: Pressing into Thin Places gives readers permission to be authentic and to acknowledge doubt, questions, even depression. Often we experience guilt over these sometimes realities, fearing they show a weak faith. But how can facing these circumstances or emotions actually strengthen faith and reveal the presence of God in our lives?

We all have ups and downs. We are emotional beings. This is part of life. But can we dial up different thoughts? Can we change our feelings? Many times, I believe we can. Not too long ago I came across a verse in 1 Samuel 30. The chapter talked about a time when David was defeated by his enemies, rejected by all those around him and discouraged to the core. In verse 6, it says, “And David strengthened himself in the Lord.” How do we strengthen ourselves in the Lord? I believe we do what a verse in Psalms suggests: “And then one day I went into your sanctuary and thought” (Ps. 73:17). We strengthen ourselves in the Lord by going into His presence and letting Him guide our thinking. Many of the Psalms tell us that David worshipped and meditated on the scriptures. This was no exception. He received new purpose, vision, and authority. He waited patiently to become king.

Q: Why do you think we fear admitting doubt or struggles with faith?

Fear wants to rise and speak to the bottom corners of our mind. It will remind us not to be vulnerable. We will remember what happens when we risk psychological safety or abandon feelings of superiority. We will remember our nakedness. We will feel the wash of old fears and the pull of old attitudes and the temptations of old behaviors. But our heart, where our choice and our spirit live, desires our Father and His Kingdom. And our Teacher taught us to pray.

Q: It seems that more and more we all encounter people who profess to believe that God exists, but the crisis of faith arises in God’s goodness. What do you say to the reader who struggles to believe that God is good and loving?

Jesus says we can trust our Heavenly Father. We are safe, we are protected, and we are guided when we cooperate with God’s purpose and God’s way of doing things. We become participants in the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of God’s grace on earth. Jesus reminds us over and over again that we must have faith. We must believe in the fact that we are safe and that “good” will result as we submit our will to His Way. This submission is powerful. It defragments our life and gives us spiritual significance and wholeness of soul. This submission results in the process of spiritual transformation. Along the way, we are rewarded by “faith surprises” as resources of the Kingdom of Heaven are available to make changes in us, in others, and in the way things are.

Q: What do you hope that readers will take away from Pressing into Thin Places?

At the crux of this message of greater connection with God is the gospel message. Jesus encourages us to see our short space of time on this earth in the light of eternity. He instructs us to remember that there are two realities: a physical reality and a spiritual reality. We are first and foremost spiritual beings called to follow Christ’s teachings.


My Review:

Pressing Into Thin Places is a book that is both encouraging and challenging. It is full of stories, and scripture that will encourage you to keep pressing on as we follow our Lord, even when it doesn't seem like He is with us. When dark times abound in our lives that is when God exhorts us to cling to our hope in Him, and He will bring us through. We just have to keep pressing on. 

I love the devotional style of this book, and find that although I read it in one sitting, it can be picked up and read one chapter or topic at a time. A wonderful addition to any Christian's library when you are in need of meditative encouragement. And when I say that, the book is full of scripture for one to meditate on, as we know that although God works through His people, it's His words that are the true encouragement and inspiration for our souls and life.

I highly recommend this book and give it a thumbs up.

BUY IT: You can purchase Pressing Into Thin Places online through the Pressing Into Thin Places Website (via paypal) - it is also available through your favorite local Christian bookseller

***I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of The B and B Media Group, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***


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