Judith D Collins
Tables in the Wilderness
A Memoir of God Found, Lost, and Found Again
By: Preston Yancey
Publisher: Zondervan Non-Fiction
Publication Date: 9/30/14
My Rating: 5 Stars
In Tables in the Wilderness, Preston Yancey arrived at Baylor University in the autumn of 2008 with his life figured out: he was Southern Baptist, conservative, had a beautiful girlfriend he would soon propose to, had spent the summer living in southeast Asia as a missionary, and planned to study political science.
Then God slowly allowed Preston’s secure world to fall apart until every piece of what he thought was true was lost: his church, his life of study, his political leanings, his girlfriend, his best friend . . . and his God. It was the loss of God in the midst of all the godly things that changed Preston forever. One day he felt he heard God say, “It’s going to be about trust with you,” and then God was silent---and he still hasn’t spoken. At least, not in the ways Preston used to think were the only ways God spoke. No pillars of fire, no clouds, just a bit of whisper in wind.
Now, Preston is a patchwork of Anglican spirituality and Baptist sensibility, with a mother who has been in chronic neurological pain for thirteen years and father still devoted to Southern Baptist ministry who reads saints’ lives on the side. He now shares his story of coming to terms with a God who is bigger than the one he thought he was worshiping---the God of a common faith, the God who makes tables in the wilderness, the God who is found in cathedrals and in forests and in the Eucharist, the God who speaks in fire and in wind, the God who is bigger than narrow understandings of his will, his desire, his plan---the God who is so big, that everything must be his.
A special thanks to Zondervan Non-Fiction and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Preston Yancey’s debut, TABLES IN THE WILDERNESS, is a contemporary memoir, you will not want to miss! Preston explores different forms of hearing God—in Scriptures, written prayers, feelings, through others, and silence. A bigger God than imagined.
Tables in the Wilderness is a love letter to people who do not know where they fit in the church, its teachings, or may not particularly want to choose one denomination, over another--- to place their faith. They are looking for more. Many people still down deep--believe in God; however, may not feel His presence at all times.
Through this book, Yancey wants to cause complications and talk about God’s absence or presence. As he grew up in the south (as did I Southern Baptist), you can always hear with prayer, church, and scriptures.
However, Preston takes readers on his journey through the times he felt God was silent. He was challenged, as felt Jesus left him and now it was going to be about trust. Even through this journey, he still believed, but did not think God was present.
Tables—the place where life happens. Where we hear one another’s story--- I feed you and you feed me. We recognize God in one another. The most significant thing God was teaching him through this journey, as well as all of us today------God wants us to look for Him, in one another—the ordinary and common.
When the absence began, he was scared thinking it would always be this way; however by the end, he realized it was actually the beginning and foundation point ----a journey to a new richer and fuller understanding of God. God can prepare a table in the wilderness.
TABLES IN THE WILDERNESS, will take you on an engaging journey with twists and turns, keeping you turning to find answers, as Preston explores God’s voice in different ways. Deeply moving and personal, you feel a sense of peace knowing God has laid out His tables for us, even when we are broken and in those desolate places—Grace comes and reaches into those cracked places. It was the loss of God in the midst of all the godly things that changed Preston forever.
Filled with emotion, honesty, and humor, Yancey shares his story of coming to terms with a God— much bigger than he thought possible. Much larger than the one he has worshiped in traditional ways —a God who makes tables in the wilderness.
While books and reading, play an important role in shaping Preston’s perspective on Christianity, his theology was shaped largely not just by the places he worshiped, but the people he worshiped with. Sam, Grant, Antonia, and Jerry all play significant roles in Preston’s life throughout the course of Tables in the Wilderness in specific ways, particularly focused on refining and shaping his spirituality.
Preston’s fresh approach, to traditional devotion--- reiterates our place at God’s Table--we are welcome guests, as he prepares a table in anticipation of Jesus’ arrival. He takes you on an intimate journey of the discovery and goodness of God.
A big-hearted, wise beyond his years, this talented writer, Preston Yancey writes honestly with clarity and feeling—a coming-of-age journey to a table set in the wilderness between he and a triune God. As he journeys he questions and stumbles his way toward an understanding that faith is not a linear path but a series of leaps (lily pads)--forward and backward, side to side. God (water) is there to sustain him along the way.
Many of us have struggled with faith and desperately desires and seeks hope. Preston comes to know a God who is bigger than he dreamed possible, Hope is there, after struggling to find his relationship and faith.
The Eucharist, Communion, is particularly important to Preston’s spiritual journey and is a significant factor in where he ultimately decides to make his denominational home. He learns to hear God by other people. To hear in the small and quiet things. God makes them everywhere, if we’d only learn to look. Preston demonstrates we can be still and find God within our wilderness. Highly Recommend!
Non-Fiction Must Reads