Chad Bird, Night Driving: Notes from a Prodigal Soul (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2017)
“The Bible unmasks the stories of men and women to reveal their true, sin-laden identities. Because of that, we are able to see ourselves in them… We are all of these – and more.” (p. 90)
Night Driving is exactly such a story. Raw, honest, and real, Chad Bird, a professor and pastor, tells his story of losing his job at the seminary, of his marriage ending in divorce, and through years of struggle, of finding his way back to the church.
Without trying to justify his actions or explain his sins away, the reader hears Bird’s devastating confession. He takes you along on a journey into the darkness of the night, where the light of exposing sins is far away. But driving a truck through the oil fields of Texas on the night shift, having ample time to deal with his inner turmoil, he wrestled with God and his own past, and eventually found what he had been looking for. In the Psalms, he found the language of the languishing and inside his truck cab, he hurled the Psalms at heaven.
In between the account of his own story, Bird provides similar examples found in the Old Testament. He demonstrates the brokenness of every single human being, he reveals the failures and struggles we all experience in our daily life. And in the end, he relates everything back to the one God, who is able to forgive.
This book is full of the hopeful message of the gospel. Christ has the power to heal. God does not require “perfect repentance” from us. He is a God of grace. He reaches out to us in the darkness, even when we cannot see it. We are never alone in our struggle. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ!
The last chapters of the book deal with “The community of the Broken”, the church. Bird brilliantly describes it as “both lovely and broken, full of desirable and undesirable traits”, as a mirror of who we as humans are. The gathering of believers can often not be distinguished from a gathering of unbelievers. Yet, where the believers gather, there God is at work – to heal and to forgive and to love. Fellow sinners gathering around a forgiving Saviour!
When reading this book, reflecting on our own sins and struggles, we find at the end the grace of God – the glorious morning after wrestling through the night. I highly recommend this book to anyone who struggles through denial, anger, addiction, grief or sin. It is both relatable and insightful!
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