Friday, April 25, 2014

Book Review: Journey to Joy

It's been a while since I've managed to finish a book, and even longer since a book review appeared on the site. Things seem to have been incredibly busy, and I haven't been in the frame of mind to be reading for pleasure. The demands of Sunday and (Lenten) midweek preaching have been heavy. Hopefully we'll get back into a slightly better routine of reading and writing. After all, my annual books read total would suffer otherwise!

In the world of Olympic sprinting, two false starts lead to a disqualification. Had the same criteria applied in this instance, this book would never have been finished. After a couple of times when I had started to read it, got a chapter or two along the way, it was discarded and left to gather dust. The only thing that kept me returning to the book to have another go was that it had been a complimentary review copy from the Evangelical Bookshop in Belfast, so I had to press on!

In Journey to Joy, Josh Moody takes the reader on a journey through the Psalms of Ascents (120-134). On the whole, the Psalms are handled well, with careful exposition. It could indeed be a helpful book for many. It just didn't seem to connect with me - whether it's because the writer is coming from a different perspective/church experience/cultural background or what, I'm not sure. There seemed to be times when I couldn't follow what he was saying, or couldn't work out where he was getting it from.

A case in point comes early on, as Moody describes the pain of the Psalmist in Psalm 120, and what he does about it. The points of application are: 1. Pray - don't talk to others, but first talk to God; 2. Tell the pain to God. To my mind, the two points are the same. Praying is to speak to God, to tell the pain to God. There were similar moments of confusion on my part as I struggled through. There was also, at times, a missing connection to Jesus, his person and work. The Psalms were almost dealt with in and of themselves, without the wider connection which I felt would have been helpful.

Many have found this book helpful. But for me, I didn't enjoy the book, and it didn't seem to draw me in, which was a disappointment. I love the Psalms of Ascent, but have found other books more helpful.

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