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Caught Off Guard: Encounters with the Unexpected God
Artist: William P. Smith
Publisher : New Growth Press
Length: 177 pp.

Caught Off Guard poses the question many frustrated Christians of today seem to be asking: How do you take your head knowledge about the omnipotence, love, and compassion of God and transfer it to your heart? William Smith asks readers twenty questions in this book that are designed to draw Christians closer to living for God rather than just knowing who God is. Each chapter is then followed by a series of questions for further study into each area. 

Smith's contention is that many of us compartmentalize God, trying to put Him into a box where we can attend to Him whenever we have the time or inclination, rather than letting Him permeate every area of our lives. The obvious conclusion here is that when we exclude God from any area of our lives, our efforts will be frustrated at best and completely unsatisfying at worst. As noted, Christ commanded us to "love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength". Smith points out that many Christians are incomplete, in that they are willing to give God their minds, but want to keep the other areas under their own control. 

As one who has struggled time and time again with these issues, I found Smith's book to serve two purposes: 1) to remind me of the things I know intellectually, and to allow God into those areas of my life in which I have not relinquished control; and 2) to point out the ways in which live can be easier in we fully embrace the love of God. Smith's message is not that of the theologically questionable Prayer of Jabez, either - he reminds us that we will hit pitfalls and trials in our daily lives. How we handle them is a matter of perspective, and to what degree we are willing to rely on God to help us through them. The book is ideal for study groups with its questions after every chapter, or for individual study. It is one of those books you may read, then slap yourself in the forehead as you are reminded of how difficult we can make life for ourselves. 

Brian A. Smith
30 May 2007



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