I believe that with this single book, Pete Wilson moves outside the circle of American pastors and bloggers and into the arena of people we consider major Christian voices for this generation.
I had a bit of an advantage here. After years of being aware of Nashville pastor Pete Wilson through his blog, and listening to several of his sermons and video posts, I was able to hear his voice in my head as I read each page. I’ve been impressed over the years with Pete’s complete honesty and transparency as someone walking the journey of life as we all do, albeit in the set-apart position of vocational ministry.
So I really, really wanted to be included among the 500+ people who are posting reviews of this book today as part of a blitz by the publisher, Thomas Nelson. The book is Plan B – What Do You Do When God Doesn’t Show Up The Way You Thought He Would? Knowing this was his first time in print having to compete for the attention of North American Christians in a crowded publishing market, I was a little unsure how Pete would fare.
Here’s my review:
This is a landmark book.
Using a large number of examples from the lives of people Pete has pastored in Kentucky and Tennessee; combining in the Biblical examples of David, Joseph, Job, Ruth, and even Jesus; and finally mixing in quotations from some of today’s most popular contemporary Christian authors; Pete delivers a treatment of his subject that would be thorough enough to meet the most rigid academic requirements, but is delivered in a totally grassroots, down-to-earth, unpretentious style.
This is not an easy book to digest. Life is hard. This is not a feel-good book with rhyming couplet sayings. There are chapters that seem to ask more questions than provide answers. In the end — spoiler alert! — there is no pastoral closing scene with a golden sunset or a rainbow against a blue sky.
If anything, I got the impression that as someone who has been pastoring for just a little over a decade, Pete has had more than his share of being with people at the deepest moments of personal crisis and tragedy.
When I was pastoring in Kentucky, I would often ride with law-enforcement officials after someone had been murdered or killed in a car accident. The officers liked having me along when they went to inform the next of kin. I still remember the sick feeling I would get when we pulled into a driveway to do that sad job. I would think, Inside that house is a family just living their lives, going through the normal routine. They have no idea how my next few words are going to turn their very life upside down forever.
Not a book for people — including myself at times — who would like to bury their heads and deny that life often presents us with seemingly impossible challenges. But a book that finds there is hope to be found at the foot of the cross.
I found the overall pacing and writing of the book very similar to another title (from the same publisher) Fearless by Max Luacdo. I think that fans of Lucado’s writing would find this a very comfortable fit for their library, if they’re open to trying a new author. I won’t labor the similarities, but they are many.
But I also think there’s another application here: I think that pastors and counselors should buy this book, read it, and then have an extra copy handy to give to people who suddenly find themselves in the valley. This is an author who understands, who gets it.
Finally, I think there’s yet another direction for Plan B, which is hinted at in an eleven-page set of study questions at the back: This would be an excellent group study. We all experience unique trials and we all process these difficulties differently. What better healing process than to get people sharing some of the darkest times in their lives with others who have had, are having, or will have similar times where God seems conspicuously absent? Combining the first two chapters also yields a viable 13-week adult study curriculum.
Those of us who’ve enjoyed Pete’s blog, Without Wax, or listened to sermons at Cross Point already knew what Pete Wilson was all about. I believe with this single book, Pete steps into the circle of people we consider significant Christian voices in North America and beyond.
Plan B – What Do You Do When God Doesn’t Show Up The Way You Thought He Would? by Pete Wilson (Thomas Nelson, 244 pages paperback, May, 2010)