Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Book Review: God's Forever Feast
I'm forever grateful for my introduction to Dr. Paul Brand's ministry and writings. I cannot remember if it came via a book suggestion from a friend, a reference to one of his books or through the chapter in Philip Yancey's book, Soul Survivor, where he introduces Dr. Brand as one of a number of people who have influenced his life.
Dr. Paul Brand was a missionary doctor in India who worked to reconstruct body parts for those individuals plagued by leprosy. His work led to a marvelous book called, The Gift Nobody Wants. In that book, he outlines the God-given task of pain and reveals the suffering of lepers, caused by their lack of that blessed function.
I stumbled upon this little book, God's Forever Feast: Letting God Satisfy Your Deepest Hunger, in a thrift store and had to purchase it. Like other books by Dr. Brand, this one is packed with nuggets of truth and glimpses of scientific explanations of God's awe-inspiring ways. As The Gift Nobody Wants, asserted the importance of pain, this book argues that "hunger is a wonderful thing ... it gives us life." He goes on to say that starvation actually deadens the appetite and he reminds us that there is a spiritual application in this truth.
This book is full of typical Brand fare. He outlines so many scientific and natural principles and links these to their corresponding spiritual insights. He discusses the job of the nose, the importance of water's ability to freeze, the ability to find pure water in the midst of pollution, the blessing available in sharing food, and the struggle to allow God to meet our needs and fulfill our hungers.
I loved Chapter 9, as it discussed a talk he gave on piety during Lent when he was in India. With a title of "Unwashed Hands," this chapter discussed a passage in Mark (he was given prescribed readings for the talk) where Jesus was criticized for eating with unwashed hands. He explained the need for absolute care of the hands when waiting to go inside a patient's body for surgery. He focused on two words, "outside" and "inside" and delivered a message about the importance of ministering to a world in need ... a world that is often ripe with contamination. Dr. Brand declares that "true religion demands that the Christian go out into an impure world, bringing the love of Jesus to the most needy" and he asserts that the Holy Spirit protects us from contamination. He writes, "It is the life of the Spirit that keeps us sensitive, minute by minute, to the human needs outside and to our personal need for holiness inside." This was a fascinating and convicting chapter.
In the final chapter of the book, I discovered another illustration that was pure gold. He tells the story of an evangelist named Graham Scroggie who knelt beside a woman struggling with answering God's call for her life. He spoke with her about an interaction in the Bible between Peter and the Lord, where Peter replied "No, Lord." Then he wrote those two words down and placed them in front of her. He said to her, "I think that is what you are trying to say. Now I am going to leave you and go over there to pray for you. I want you to pray too,and then take this pencil and cross out one of those words." This was a powerful lesson to me!
What I love most about Dr. Paul Brand is that he always ministers to my spirit via my intellect. I learn so much about the human body and how it works. I learn the whys and the wherefores behind the simplest acts, like swallowing. And with the knowledge, I am stirred to consider my Creator and to praise and serve Him more fervently.
In Chapter 13, he declares, "All of life tastes better if it is shared." I feel that way about books. When I read a really beneficial, inspiring book, I am stirred by a great need to share. I certainly hope that this review leads to some individual discovering the wealth of scientific and spiritual wisdom in the books of Paul Brand.
Side note: I realize that the title shown on the image drawn from an Amazon listing does not match the title of the book I purchased. Apparently, the book has gone by two different names: The Forever Feast and God's Forever Feast. Similarly, Dr. Brand's book on pain has been released under two different titles: The Gift Nobody Wants and The Gift of Pain. Whatever title you can find them in, they are well worth your time to read!