Reviewed by: Richard Scott MacLaren
Date posted: 05/24/2020
God Is Always Better Than We Can Imagine: Thirty-One Meditations on the Greatness of God, by Iain Wright. Banner of Truth, 2019. Paperback, 256 pages, $12.00. Reviewed by OP pastor Richard Scott MacLaren.
From time to time, I’m asked to recommend a good devotional for deepening one’s spiritual life. I must admit that I have a hard time doing so. Much of contemporary devotional material is superficial and fails to encourage thoughtful meditation on God’s Word. Some drifts into a mysticism that confuses the Spirit of Christ with our feelings and “inner voice.” Others are moralistic and point to the example of Christ but forget his atonement. Reformed classics like Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening or Kuyper’s To Be Near unto God are rather dated now in their language and relevance to modern experience. The wonderful Confessions of Saint Augustine would probably tax the patience of most.
In his essay on “The Religious Life of Theological Students,” the great B. B. Warfield reminds us that theological studies should always lead beyond knowledge to doxology. This is the experience I have had in reading OP pastor Iain Wright’s book, God Is Always Better Than We Can Imagine. Each meditation is about eight pages in length and reads like a novel. To this former English major, Wright’s prose is a delight, appealing to both mind and heart. His meditations are theologically rich and pastorally sound.
Wright uses Ephesians 3:14–21 as a tour guide through the corridors of redemptive history. Each chapter takes the reader’s hand and points with enthusiasm to the art gallery of God’s glory and grace.
We are left with ever expanding views of the unexpected and unimagined in redemptive history. Surely “God is always better than we can imagine,” and a sense of wonder fills the heart at the sheer abundance of God’s grace. A very human, sympathetic touch is evident throughout as Wright shares common experiences that illumine the narrative.
My only criticism is that I wish Wright found different ways of saying “God is always better than we can imagine.” Its repetition becomes mechanical and somewhat distracting. I’m sure it was designed to serve a pedagogical purpose, but I think it could be just as effective to say the same thing in different ways. Otherwise, of this book I would borrow the words that intrigued a young Augustine in his Confessions, “Take up and read!”