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Reaching for the Invisible God Paperback – February 18, 2002

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Editorial Reviews Review

In a sea of books that promise certainty, award-winning author Philip Yancey (What's So Amazing About Grace, The Jesus I Never Knew) is not afraid to write about the mystery of belief, about letting risk and faith go hand in hand. Reaching for the Invisible God: What Can We Expect to Find? is Yancey at his best--wrestling with difficult questions and refusing to give pat answers. In our quest to know God, he offers this caveat: "The more personal conception of God we have, the more unnerving are the questions about him."

Yancey quotes extensively from classic writers and sketches scenes of doubting biblical figures as he grapples with making sense of a God who is personal, yet sometimes so elusive. Six different aspects of the Christian life are explored: our longing for God, who God is, the Holy Spirit, our faith, growth, and spiritual transformation. In his explorations, he reassembles the difficult and perplexing events of life around an ability to trust in a loving God. Trust is pivotal. Admitting that God's style "often baffles me," Yancey leaves no doubt that his framework of faith is still in place, that he sees "evidence of (God's) long-suffering, mercy, and desire to woo rather than compel--I have learned to trust God."

Here is the clear, concise writing mixed with deeply personal and authentic insights that won Yancey nine Gold Medallion Awards for previous books. Expect a 10th. --Cindy Crosby --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

HPopular theologian Yancey (The Jesus I Never Knew; What's So Amazing About Grace?) steers clear of trite detours, inviting readers to travel through some of the most difficult aspects of nurturing a human relationship with a transcendent God. Drawing upon wide experience and a rich well of stories, Yancey considers honestly the predicaments of human existence. We are distracted with the daily grind, checking our e-mail more often than we meditate. We banish doubts in the name of more streamlined versions of success and self-fulfillment. Christians in particular, Yancey says, are often guilty of worshipping the impossible while failing to believe in the possibleDthat relationship of grace God extends to humankind daily. With common sense and a poetic sensibility, Yancey poses fruitful questions and offers real insights. In the search for signposts of the invisible God, Yancey beckons readers to the Bible to encounter God's loving and gracious personality. Without clich s, he reminds us that doubt and difficulty can be catalysts for intimacy with God. And with humor and fair wisdom, he talks about seeking the Holy Spirit: "To reach for the Spirit is like hunting for your eyeglasses while wearing them." In conversation with the many sages he citesDC.S. Lewis, Thomas Merton and Umberto Eco, to name a fewDYancey is at once pastoral and provocative. Meet a friend. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (February 18, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310247306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310247302
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I worked for 10 years as an Editor and then Publisher for Campus Life magazine. There I learned journalistic skills (there's no tougher audience than teenagers), but every year it seemed I wrote fewer and fewer words. In 1980 my wife Janet and I moved to downtown Chicago where I began a career as a freelance writer. (She has worked as a social worker and hospice chaplain--which gives me plenty of material to write about!) We lived there until 1992, when we moved to the foothills of Colorado. I've written around 20 books, most of them still in print, thankfully. Three of them I coauthored with Dr. Paul Brand, who influenced me more than any single person. My own favorites are "Soul Survivor" and "Reaching for the Invisible God" because both of them forced me to dig deep and get personal. I'm a pilgrim, still "in recovery" from a bad church upbringing, searching for a faith that makes its followers larger and not smaller. I feel overwhelming gratitude that I can make a living writing about the questions that interest me.

Please visit my website at for more information, essays, events, travel notes, and a blog.

There is also an official Facebook page at:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 83 people found the following review helpful By mjanke on November 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"How do I relate to a God who is invisible when I'm never quite sure he's there," Philip Yancey asks.
One of my favorite things about this man is that he shows no fear in asking the tough questions that many in Christian circles would prefer to pretend were non-existant. The enigma of how physical beings can know a spiritual God is one that has plagued humankind since the fall of Adam. In life's most difficult moments God more often than not still remains silent and apart. Why does this happen? Is this normal, and does the fact that I feel so distant mean that there's something missing in my relationship with Him? These are some of the hard questions that Yancey tackles in REACHING FOR THE INVISIBLE GOD. Some of the material here was reminiscent of DISAPPOINTMENT WITH GOD, since both deal with faith in the midst of hardship. But here Yancey elaborates and breaks new ground, emphasizing the journey and nature of a maturing faith in God.
Perhaps the most helpful thing for me about this book was how he dealt with that questions of "feeling" and intimacy, on a personal level. Most Christians usually have at least one "mountain top" experience in their life where they feel a deep sense of God and His love. But those feelings always fade and eventually the mountain top gives way to hills and valleys. Yet for some reason we tend believe that a person who is walking closely with God will also FEEL close to Him. And when we lose that feeling and live without it for some time questions can arise; especially in times of crisis. Yancey carefully peels back those misconceptions and replaces them with a realistic picture of what it truely means to know and walk with our unseen God.
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115 of 123 people found the following review helpful By on August 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a honest book of a honest pilgrim in this world. A lot of christian books seems to create a fantacy world for christians. This book picture a real christian life in a real world. It does not make God a lesser God but a real God. A God that never let us down, but also a God that does not deliver us from all kind of pain when we live here in this world. A God that does not play along with western cultures easy life thinking, bot a God that lead us through real life such as most of us experience it.
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64 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Mark Sanborn on November 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Rarely do I reread a book--there are just too many good books yet to read--but I am on my second reading of Reaching for the Invisible God. This is a tremendous book and Philip Yancey at what may well be his thought-provoking best. Not only did it encourage me, but it simultaneously challenged me in a very profound manner. I am planning to give this book as gifts to friends who are agnostics or seekers as I believe it presents a very real view of the hopes and fears of those who pursue a relationship with God, and an intelligent response to many common questions about the Christian faith. This isn't supposed to be a "scholarly work" in the sense of the one critical review found elsewhere here, but it is intelligent and well-written.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Paul M. Julich on February 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I am not surprised that some find this book hard to accept. Many writers seem to think it necessary to market Christ. Yancey tells it like it is - the every day struggles to follow Christ in a world where things don't work out the way we expect. So many Christians do well when life is smooth, health is good, and the economy is booming. The reality is that jobs are lost, health fails, kids rebel, friends and loved ones die. Yancey is not afraid to face the real issues and ask the tough questions. I have been blessed by several of his books - The Jesus I Never Knew, What's so Amazing About Grace, but this book really challenged me. If you don't want to face reality, skip this one, but if you want to really live for God in the real world, get it and be prepared to spend some time on your knees with God. It will force you to dig the foundations of your faith deeper and allow you to weather the storm that is coming in your life. I seldom have time to read a book more than once, but I read this one a second time and it was even better the second time around.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Tom Hinkle on November 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Philip Yancey is an expert in writing about the struggles, the doubts, and the uncertainties of the Christian life. In other words, he writes about reality. There is no sugar-coating from Yancey. No "Now I am happy all the day" type sentiment. But through all that gritty reality, he can still experience a deep faith in the God who is unseen, and often seems absent. Given that, there is not a lot about this book that distinguishes itself from his other works. This is familiar ground to those who have read some of his previous books. I do like his discussions of some of the non-traditional "attributes" of God (especially intriguing is the treatise on God's shyness). When I first noticed the chapters on the stages of faith as Child, Adult, and Parent, I cringed at the thought of the possibility of pop-psychology mumbo-jumbo being advocated, but these are some of the most valuable chapters in the book. His discussion of the strengths and "weaknesses" of the different persons of the Trinity is also very interesting.
Philip Yancey obviously reads a lot of books. Most of his ideas seem synthesized from the various things he has read. It takes a very alert, organized mind to bring all this together. I don't know how many of his ideas in this book are original, and how many are "borrowed", but Yancey remains one of the most interesting writers on the Christian scene today. Although this is familiar Yancey territory, few writers stake out that same territory with the same skill and near-brilliance.
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