- File Size: 468 KB
- Print Length: 188 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
- Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 14, 2013)
- Publication Date: May 14, 2013
- Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00A0VP98M
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,303 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent Kindle Edition
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On one level, the book is just a bunch of stories. Stories stolen from Wilson's past and present. Stories about raising multiple kids. Stories about a father who fought in the war. Stories about family trips that never went as expected. At first-read, they seem disconnected. But just like a good movie which sneaks up on you days after you saw it to make a profound point, these unrelated stories eventually come together in an inspiring and surprising way.
Each story is ultimately a commentary on what it means for our lives to be a story. "Life is a story" is one of the most popular cliches in contemporary literature, especially Christian literature. But Wilson doesn't seek to just add more sentimentality to a notion already overloaded with sentimentality. He seeks to clarify it and correct it. Wilson's primary goal is to dismantle the myths associated with this popular philosophy.
Wilson rejects the common belief that, as story, our lives feature us in the starring role. He writes, "Yes, your life is a story, but you are carpet-dwelling, dust-mite teensy on the scale of this stage, and only one in the multitude of His cast." God is the central character of our story and of all stories. The sooner we recognize this, the better. The more quickly we take the spotlight off of ourselves and place it on God, the more authentic our story will be.
Still, God cares deeply for us and wishes to employ us in his plot: "You have the Creator God’s full attention, as much attention as He ever gave Napoleon. Or Churchill. Or even Moses. Or billions of others who lived and died unknown. Or a grain of sand. Or one spike on one snowflake. You are spoken. You are seen. It is your turn to participate in creation."
And participation is the primary call of Wilson's book. He urges us to live fully--all the way to our deaths. He weaves intriguing stories of family members who "reached their deaths by living" (hence the book's title) and calls us to live and die similarly. Lay your life down, " he urges. "Your heartbeats cannot be hoarded. Your reservoir of breaths is draining away. You have hands, blister them while you can. You have bones, make them strain—they can carry nothing in the grave. You have lungs, let them spill with laughter."
Wilson excels in creating memorable lines. For example, he remarks, "You cannot throw a diva fit backstage in this production and force the understudy to take your place. You are in every scene. You are on the field for every play."
Perhaps these eight words are the book's best summary: "In the ground, we all have empty hands." The one thing all human stories have in common is their end. We all die. And when we die, we take nothing with us. So, Wilson argues, we may as well spend all we can while we live (hence the book's subtitle). Most importantly, we should spend it touching the stories of others. We have the opportunity to enter into the lives of others. We may not know how their stories started or how they will end. But while we can, we can bless and better their stories.
And all the while, we live and die in partnership with God. "The God who looked on you with joy when you were small and racing across His gift of green grass on His gift of feet beneath His gift of sky watched by His gift of a mother with His gift of love in His gift of her eyes, is the same God who will look on you as that race finally ends."
If you're looking for a list, move on. If you're hoping for 1-2-3 or A-B-C, this isn't the book for you. But if you're intrigued by well-written short stories which covertly sneak past your defenses and explode with mirth and meaning, pick up a copy of "Death by Living." Your story will be the better for it.
Death by Living is a plea for people to living life as God intends. In other words, to quote Red from Shawshank Redemption, "Get busy livin' or get busy dyin." Wilson challenges readers to get busy living which of course will culminate with death: "How much of the vineyard can we burn first? How fast can we run? How deeply can we laugh? Can we ever give more than we receive? How much gratitude can we show? How many of the least of these can we touch along the way? How many seeds will we get into the ground before we ourselves are planted?"
A theme that runs through Wilson's work is that life is a story. Life is a story that each of us participate in. Indeed, we write our stories every day. But the author maintains, "there is a difference between asserting that life is a story and actually living life like a story. And there is another difference between living life-like a story and living life like a good story." Living life like a story, therefore, is part and parcel of the Christian life.
The author helps readers see what real living looks like: "Grabbing will always fail. Giving will always succeed ... Our children, our friends, and our neighbors will all be better off if we work to accumulate for their sakes ... Don't leave food uneaten, strength unspent, wine undrunk."
Wilson urges readers to live with all their might. And while he never mentions Jonathan Edwards, I hear a strong Edwardsian influence throughout the book. Edwards himself penned 70 resolutions that reflect many of the propositions in Death by Living. One of those resolutions is to "live with all my might, while I do live" (Resolution 6). Nate Wilson argues in the same vein, which of course, is undergirded by America's greatest intellectual: "Laugh from your gut. Burden your moments with thankfulness. Be as empty as you can be when that clock winds down. Spend your life. And if time is a river, may you leave a wake."
Death by Living will elicit laughter - lots of laughter. I found myself reading portions of Wilson's work to my wife and she would laugh with me. In fact, I haven't laughed so hard in a while! Some won't find Wilson's humor funny - which makes me laugh even harder!
Death by Living may prompt tears. There is a realism here that is hard to come by these days. This author speaks in candid terms. Taking prisoners simply isn't an option. All the cards are on the table. Readers are left to determine a whether the "hand they've been dealt" will result in joyful, Christ-saturated living or death by a thousand qualifications. Far too many have simply thrown in the towel. Wilson argues from an entirely different perspective as he encourages readers that "life is meant to be spent."
One reviewer compares Wilson to John Eldredge - what is likely meant to be a compliment. Sure, whatever. I prefer, as I have done elsewhere [See my review: Notes From the Tilt-a-Whirl] to compare Wilson to Dennis Miller, G.K. Chesterton, and C.S. Lewis - no doubt a true compliment! Death by Living is about the gospel but it never comes across in "preachy" tones. It's a celebration of life lived and ended well. It's about a life that is lived passionately and faithfully. Death by Living is about living with gusto; about living with passion; about living to honor Christ. But real living also requires dying. We are called to finish strong and die well - all to the glory of God!
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review.