While reading this book I often thought: How come the author knows my story so well? How come he wrote about my very personal experience? How come I didn't notice him, he must have been right there when this and that happened in my life ...
But he wasn't there, of course not. He is Irish, I am German. We have never met. We probably won't ever meet. And still this book is my book, too. Growing up in a "Christian, born-again, charismatic-Pentecostal" surrounding, getting mixed up in stuff that was clearly labelled "sinful", being lost in substance abuse – and then re-emerging to find Jesus. Then there were the Jesus People, followed by ministry in a church ... – but let's not talk about my life, this is about "The Prodigal Prophet", after all!
"Life is indeed a strange journey, the spiritual life an even stranger one. If I'd known where mine would take me I'm not sure I would have voluntarily set out on it at all." With these words Dylan Morrison starts sharing his life with us, the readers. His writing captured me from the very first sentences and didn't let me go until I had finished reading the last page. The story unfolds and does not get boring, not even once was I tempted to skip a paragraph. From the first encounter with God as a child ("He seemed to be a nice kind of God to know when the going got tough") until the speaking in tongues and the first glimpse of a prophetic gift everything seems to develop into the typical charismatic testimony: There is a God who will provide for everything, if your faith is big or strong enough.
But this story goes on, where such a book would surely end. Because God is not as simple as that. Life is not as simple as that.
"The cracks begin to show" when Ben, Dylan Morrison’s first son, falls ill after a few months on this earth. "God, God, God, you've got to help us!", they pray, the whole church involved in spiritual warfare – but God does not intervene. The child dies. The well balanced and theologically elaborated religious system fails.
"Full time ministry" in God's kingdom turns out to be full time, but Dylan Morrison starts to notice, that he is so tangled up in institutions and hierarchies that there is little room for actually ministering to people. Is this, what God has planned, what God has gifted him for? The cracks multiply and grow wider - will his (spiritual) life crash?
I won't say any more about the content of this book, because I don't want to spoil the suspense any further. Maybe I said too much already? Forgive me.
This is one of the few books with spiritual topics that I devoured breathlessly. Like in a good Stephen King or John Grisham story there are all the unexpected turns and twists, hopes and disasters. Rise and fall and get back on your feet again – if you can. But this book is not fiction, this is a real life journey. And the absent God is not really absent, after all. He just isn't where one would expect him to be. "I was shocked that I'd been sent a Divine email in the midst of a Prague concert hall."
Dylan Morrison comes to a conclusion that I share with all my heart: "The Nazarene is the one I wish to follow to my journey's end, the one whose love and spirituality I wish to share with the outcasts from the Christian camp. The scapegoated, abused and persecuted have a right to have the religious spin reversed."
If you are at the verge of a spiritual breakdown or if it already happened to you: Go ahead and buy this book. I am convinced it will touch you like it touched me.
If you are still young and wonder about all the stuff you hear about ministry and church and Spirit and faith: Go ahead and buy this book. It will help you to avoid mistakes that have already been made by others.
If you don't believe in God and muse about the fact that all Christians seem to be narrow minded and limited by tons of rules and laws: Go ahead and buy this book. You might be surprised to find out that God is not what some people make him look like.
If you are a hard-core Christian who has all the answers and knows exactly how God's promises can be set to work for everyone: Don't buy this book, don't read it. Stay away. Don't touch it. You hear me? What are you doing! I said don't! Why would you risk your reliable set of rules ...
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