What would it be like to enter a life of vibrant worship and deepening romance with Christ? From first to last Scripture tells a mighty blessing story, and we can be part of it. We can enter the energizing dynamic of receiving, returning and reflecting the love of the Triune God. Offering passionate insights into the person of Christ, and true stories of blessing, pastor Gerrit Dawson leads us on a joyful journey toward loving Jesus and participating significantly in his love for the world. Also available: A Guide to the Blessing Life, a forty-day companion to the journey.
The Blessing Life: A Journey to Unexpected Joy. By Gerrit Dawson. Downers Grove, IL.: IVP Books, 2013. 208 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0830837519. $14.09
Endorsements: "The Blessing Life . . . is the kind of book that will change everything you ever thought about blessing--from God, to God and to others. Not only that, it will change your life in ways you never dreamed. I commend this book to you. After you read it, you will 'rise up' and call Gerrit Dawson blessed for having written it." (Steve Brown, Bible teacher on Key Life and professor at Reformed Seminary, Orlando, Florida) "We often say 'bless you' with little thought to the true meaning behind that phrase. Never again will I offer those words without serious consideration of the One from whom blessings come, thanks to Gerrit Dawson's masterfully crafted The Blessing Life. Throughout these pages, Gerrit edifies our souls with deep theological truth wrought from years of study, prayer and humbly walking the way of the cross. I encourage you to allow his words to bless your heart so that you may bless others in this journey of life." (Jill Rigby, founder/CEO of Manners of the Heart and author of Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World) "The Blessing Life is a veritable feast of inspiration, packed with joy-building truth, biblical wisdom that stretches the mind and practical application that challenges the heart. What a tremendous, delightful study, perfect for individual reflection or an all-church series. I highly recommend this wonderful book." (Gary Thomas, bestselling author of Sacred Marriage)
Dawson’s book is an invitation to and description of a life of joyful communion with God. His discussion is divided into three parts, receiving blessing from God, returning blessing to God, and part three, reflecting God’s blessing to others. Throughout the book, Dawson utilizes Scripture, other Christian authors, and stories from his life and the lives of his friends and family to show how God works to bless us. Notably, in part 2, each chapter is an invitation to focus and meditate on a particular aspect of the blessing of God as derived from great works of Christian art.
In total, I read this book over about 6 months. This is not to say that the book was slow or hard to read, but that almost as soon as I had begun to read it two things happened that consumed the focus of my life. First I was told that, through no fault of my own, my position would be eliminated for the upcoming academic year and I would need to find other employment. Second, the progress in our adoption came to a screeching halt.
Regarding a critical assessment of The Blessing Life: Dawson is from a different stream within protestant Christianity than me. His short bio on the back of the book states that he is a pastor of a Presbyterian Church (EPC) and that he received his D.Min. from Reformed Theological seminary. Some of the phrasing and perspective seemed awkward to me. This is not an entirely weighty criticism, but others outside of Dawson’s perspective may feel the same way. Another criticism of personal preference relates to the structure or logical flow of the book. There were several points while reading where I found myself wondering how what I was reading fit within the section it was placed in. An explanation is not given, for example, as to why we are examining pieces of “great Christian art” throughout part 2. To some degree, I found this distracting. Why pick these particular pieces? Why is this artist’s interpretation elevated to this degree?
Despite these examples of how I found the book to be halting in its flow, overall I do recommend it. The teachings and stories in The Blessing Life were a source of encouragement and hope to me as I read it in the midst of the trials I outlined above. I found myself literally in tears at more than one point when I picked up the book just to finish my obligation for this review and found faith to make it through my particular circumstances. Though it might have been organized more to my liking, somehow it works, and works well.
Dawson writes from a place of experiencing and sharing the Blessing Life and it shows. The scripture, stories, prayers, and meditations he uses to make his case are not merely academic. Dawson contends that the “Journey of Unexpected Joy” is available through communion with God. In my experience, this book is a meditative tool to begin that journey.
This book was provided free from IVP Books with my promise to post an unbiased review.