This review, by Dr. Nicholson, has been provided courtesy of Desert Bible Institute http://www.desertbibleinstitute.com.
In a reader’s life a number of books come and go. Some books are for study, some are read for the pure pleasure of it, and still others help us with the problems that loom ominously before us. On rare occasions, maybe once a decade, there comes along a book that does all three. It dazzles and delights us. We keep a special copy of it in easy reach to refer to it again and again. We recommend it to others, and we give it as gifts knowing that it will touch other lives the way in which it has touched ours. The Race Before Us, by Bruce Matson, is just such a book.
Bruce Maton writes this book as he comes to a turning point in his life. He is about to turn 50 and while he has been a success, by all measures of the world, he knows something is missing. There’s a sense of “What’s next; where do I go from here?” looming in his not so distant future. He, like many people, has not only questions but also a dissatisfaction with the status quo that the world has to offer.
There are 3 primary elements to this book. The first is a narrative about a middle-aged man looking to reclaim some of the athletic prowess of his youth. He does this initially out of a need to stave off the possibility of diabetes or even a heart attack. Over time however, he does it to reclaim something he lost: a sense of accomplishment and exhilaration that most of us remember for our youth, but that we shrug off as unattainable in later life. Bruce, as the protagonist and narrator of this story, is easy to relate to. He shares the very real struggles of somebody for whom running does not come easy. In the early part of the book, he brags to his wife how he was able to run for five minutes straight. He takes you along on a journey filled with pains and set-backs to arrive at his goal, running a marathon. This narrative will encourage and advise anyone wanting to get back in shape or be a better runner. If this was the whole story, this would be a pleasant enough book, but it’s not.
The second part of this book is dealing with the sundry issues of middle-age. This element is interspersed throughout the book and comes off as a self-help book for those trying to get on track. He talks about health issues, of course, but he also deals with that sense of emptiness that many middle-aged people encounter. He shares his experiences and gives advice based on those experiences. He takes time to address the issue of a life that has flow by in the wake of education, profession, and children. He looks at what scripture says to those people asking “Is this all? Isn’t there something more?” This element is encouraging not only because of the scriptural support but because Bruce presents it in a way that sounds like a friend showing you his own vulnerabilities, not an expert offering clinical advice.
The last element of this book was my favorite. Prior to each narrative section and intertwined with spiritual advice about mid-life is some of the most straight-forward yet challenging apologetics I have heard since C.S. Lewis. Bruce talks about the strengths and weaknesses of various theological arguments such as a-posterori, teleological, and cosmological. He gives hard, clear statistical proof of the claims he sets forth in all his arguments. He examines several of the major works of “a theists” and shows the tricks they use as well as the flaws in their arguments. His hard-hitting trial lawyer style sets his opponents back on their heels and leaves his Christian audience smiling at his successes. He explains many of the premises of intelligent design, including the anthropic principle and irreducible complexity in way that, while understandable, will challenge and expand the reader’s current understanding of theology and hermeneutics.
He does all of this, and more, with a sense of wit, purpose, and passion that will carry the reader through the book. Bruce has more than written a book. He has offered us a chance to journey with him, and at the end of this journey we can find both hope and better understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this book is something for everyone regardless of age, gender, or confidence in Christ and therefore should be read by everyone. However, if you are in a place where you are struggling; if you are asking what is next, pick up this book, find a comfortable spot, and start a journey that will change your life and perceptions deeply and forever.
Trent Nicholson, Ph.D., D.Min.
Desert Bible Institute, President
Dr. Nicholson is a member of the christianaudio review program. To learn more, visit their website at: http://www.christianaudio.com.