God Took Me By The Hand
Someone has said, “Everyone has a life story, but not every story gets written.” I have written mine, not because my story is particularly important, but because it so clearly and so consistently over the years illustrates the unusual providence of God in the life of a very unpromising young boy. As you read this, I hope that you can see why I say, it seems that when I was seventeen years old, God took me by the hand and said, “Come with Me.”
These words, written by Jerry Bridges himself, best summarize what this book is about. Born with social and physical setbacks, God took what would seem like a grim beginning for anyone and providentially orchestrated a highly fruitful and fulfilling life.
It is a book that is beneficial for any Christian generally, but specifically an encouragement for those who do not feel they live an extraordinary life. Jerry does a great job of showing, in retrospect, how the hand of God providentially directed the course of his life with an application for ours as well.
Jerry’s life begins “4th and long” as one would say in football terms. He was born with a number of physical problems, including deafness in one ear, being cross-eyed, as well as a number of socioeconomic setbacks. His mother passed when he was 14 and his father wound remarry taking them from their old house they grew up in to a duplex. Despite not having any money for college, God opened the door for him to go into the Navy and to enter college. During those days he came in contact with the Navigators, was discipled by the Navigator leaders, and worked for them for the majority of his life serving in numerous positions.
At the age of 34, and after years of praying for a wife, he married a lady by the name of Eleanor, who unfortunately passed away after 25 years of marriage. He would shortly after that remarry. Around the age of 46 Jerry wrote his first, and most recognized, book, The Pursuit of Holiness. This would begin a transition for Jerry into more writing, speaking, teaching, and publicity. He concludes this autobiographical book by looking at a number of spiritual applications, and listing a long lineup of events in which God directly and personally orchestrated his life.
In reading this book, God Took Me By The Hand, I found five things highly beneficial and encouraging:
1. A Simple Faith
This was so refreshing for me. There are many of what some Christians would call “elementary verses” in the Bible (by which I mean those we memorize as children or when we were new believers) that somehow, due to their frequent usage, seem to lose their power and importance. Jerry continually throughout his life recalled these “elementary verses” and applied them profoundly and with a bold confidence, faith and leading of the Holy Spirit.
2. Bible Memory
Again and again Bridges recounts how God brought to his mind scriptures when he most needed it; specific scriptures! He states,
“The Bible is meant to be applied to specific life situations. This includes both God’s commands to be obeyed and His promises to be relied upon. Here, of course, is where Scripture memorization is so valuable. The Holy Spirit can bring to our minds specific Scriptures to apply to specific situations.”
This is a helpful reminder of the importance of memorizing and meditating on Scripture.
3. Retrospective reflection
This is the overall theme of the book: Looking back on God’s providence in his life. In fact, he devoted an entire chapter to the doctrine of Providence.
We as Christians need to do this regularly and take time to actively consider God’s direct hand in our own lives.
His life was not overwhelmingly extraordinary. Many of us expect that our lives are dull compared to some of the great Christians of the past. Yet, I think the problem is that we have let the ordinariness of our day to day lives drown out the great work of God in it.
5. Specific focus
I really wanted to know more about his family life, his role as a husband and father. But, this is how every book is right? There are always things left to be desired.
In fact, I later came to realize that this was actually the highlight of the book. It had a specific purpose: To document the hand of God in a man’s life, this man being Jerry Bridges. The book actually met its specific intention with no added fillers. Great job!
God Took Me By The Hand is a book that I would definitely recommend that every Christian read. It will prove fruitful for any age.