“Is there a purpose for my life?”
“Is my religion the ‘right’ one? Aren’t all religions basically the same?”
“Why has my life not turned out the way I thought it would? The way I planned for?”
Any of those questions sound familiar? Yeah, me too. There is a point, or several, in everyone’s life where you start to question what you believe, your place in the world, and what the future may hold. “Clear Winter Nights” by Trevin Wax tells the journey of a young man and his grandfather through these questions and many more.
When I began reading “Clear Winter Nights” my first thoughts were that the book was going to be a dry debate on theological points. I was all set to grab a cup of strong coffee to stay awake while reading. I couldn’t have been further from the truth. With so many ways this book could have gone wrong, it went very, very right. Instead of a dry, boring read I found myself in the middle of a story that I could very much relate with.
Chris and Ashley were finishing up their college degrees, engaged and involved in a church planting. A series of events left Chris questioning his beliefs and unsure of where he stood. Unable to come to terms with it all and not wanting to be a hypocrite, Chris breaks his engagement and stops helping with the planning of the new church.
“You may feel alive when you go with the flow, but any old dead thing can float downstream.”
After his grandfather, Gil, has a stroke, Chris goes to spend a weekend with the retired pastor. With snow and ice everywhere, the two men face a weekend close to home. The stroke and age have left Gil limited in his ability to do daily tasks, but his mind is as sharp as ever. The conversations that followed are full of youth’s questioning and age’s wisdom. Even in his wisdom, though, Gil also has some of his own issues arising from the new reality he finds himself in.
I appreciated the difference in tones of conversation between the unsure Chris and Ashley at the beginning of the book and those between Chris and his grandfather a little further in. The conversations between Chris and Ashley reminded me very much of those I had had in college – based on a lot of head knowledge and theory. When Chris’s grandfather joined the pictured the addition of experience and time gave a whole new feeling and depth to the conversations. It was now less about theory and more about practical application, going back to the original meaning and intend of the scriptures.
Trevin Wax takes complex arguments and ideas and breaks them down step by step without making it feel like a text book or an involved book on theology. He stays close to the root of the argument without making the reader feel inferior or overwhelmed by the issues. Clear Winter Nights is definitely a book I would recommend reading, especially for those looking for answers.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
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