The Land Between - Review

I bought "The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions" by Jeff Manion on accident. I'm researching "pastoral transitions" for a dissertation and uploaded a bunch of books to my Kindle dealing with that topic. Somehow this one slipped into the bundle - maybe it was the word "transitions" in the title.

Before trying to send it back (I'm not even sure how you do that with a Kindle), I decided to read a couple of pages to make one hundred percent sure it didn't apply to my topic. It didn't apply to my topic, but I read the entire book before I knew what I was doing. I'm weak.

Manion takes a highly pastoral, highly personal look at tough transitions in life: the transitions that involve loss (loss of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of a marriage, loss of a home, etc...). Using the Israelites' wandering in the wilderness as a template, Manion helps to show how times of transition - the wilderness - can be transformational times in our life either for good or bad. To quote Manion, "The wilderness where faith can thrive is the very desert where it can dry up and die if we are not watchful."

I feel like the "wilderness wanderings" deal gets allegorized and over-used in a lot of cases. It is easy to stretch the metaphor so far beyond what the passage actually warrants that authors (and pastors) do more harm than good. In my opinion, Manion absolutely does not do this. His book doesn't feel like a self-help book with Bible verses forced in merely so he can sell the book at Lifeway.

"The Land Between" is really, really good. In fact, I'm ordering several copies to hand out to some of the people I counsel who could use the encouragement.

My only complaint about the book is that the Gospel doesn't make an appearance. I understand that the Israelites wandered a few thousand years before Jesus, but I sure wish there had been at least a mention of the fact that there is no hope for wandering in the wilderness without the Passover Lamb. Even still, this is a very good book that would make a really nice Christmas gift, especially for someone you know who is well-acquainted with the wilderness.