By Mike Wilkerson
Absolutely one of the best books on grounding your identity in Christ beyond the troubles and treason of the past, Mike Wilkerson has written a theologically sound work with painful true stories and great application. It’s a masterwork on freedom from idolatrous destruction. His comprehensive overview of freedom from idolatry is for every manner of spiritual stigma, whether it be suffering from sexual abuse, substance addiction, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, or self-harm. It’s a sobering work that is at once gentle and aggressive. Wilkerson also paints a big picture of the Bible that creates a big picture for us in God’s story.
The most effective parts of Mike Wilkerson’s work is the continual gutting of all excuses and rationalizations. In his lifetime of gritty ministry he has seen and heard it all, and the prominent problem is our belief in The Lie. Wilkerson kills lies like a sniper. The best a book such as this can do is talk to you, and I found many lies in my own life that I had to rip out from the roots.
Wilkerson frames his book around the story of Exodus, tying it into the Gospel of Jesus. Using Exodus as the theme of our deliverance from sinful slavery really does bring the Bible to life. Wilkerson shows the redemptive power of God in our darkest moments of despair, and though I’ve read many books like this that rely on cliches and platitudes and cute preacher stories, this work is grounded in a strong reality with sound Christ-centered application.
There are also many real stories here of broken people in the worst kinds of scenarios, so heavy that you can hardly believe they overcame. However, Wilkerson presents these stories abruptly throughout each chapter by telling a part of the story, going back to theology, then telling a little more of the story before going back to theology. This makes for an abrupt structure that is highly distracting because I kept wondering how the stories would end; half the time I had to re-read the theology since I couldn’t focus. This awkward composition is the weakest part of the book. Wilkerson should have considered either bookending the stories in each chapter, or saving them for the end as Francis Chan does to better effect in Forgotten God.
Despite the weak structure, this book is worth reading more than once and in a group, for both leaders and laymen. It will bring alive the already living Word of God to help you overcome what you’ve done and what’s been done to you.
God has made every human in such a way that simply being human could make his presence known. For this reason, you have great dignity as a human being, not primarily because of your own goodness but because you are made of the kind of stuff that is capable of making God’s much greater goodness visible to others. This is the bedrock upon which the enduring dignity of every person is established — no matter how sinful, abused, impaired, or oppressed. Male and female from the womb, every race — we are all created in his image and likeness.” (29)
“Jesus abounds in compassion for you in your hurt. More than that, he rescues you from your wounds, so they do not define you. It is his glory to make you a new creation, to adopt you as a child of God, and to heal you, and that glory outshines any shame that could possibly come from what’s been done to you.” (101)
“So not only is the entire message of the Bible summarized by the truth that the dwelling place of God is with man, but the apex of our daily hope and happiness is delivered in the same promise — God is with us. … His presence is far more than the feeling of his presence; he is unchanging even if our feelings wax and wane. Will we believe what we know to be true, even when we don’t feel it?” (166-167)