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Reaching for the Invisible God: What Can We Expect to Find?

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"How do I relate to a God who is invisible when I'm never quite sure he's there?" -- Philip Yancey Life with God doesn't always work out like you think it should. High expectations slam against the reality of personal weaknesses and unwelcome surprises. And the God who, you've been told, wants a personal relationship with you may seem remote, emotionally unavailable. Is God "How do I relate to a God who is invisible when I'm never quite sure he's there?" -- Philip Yancey Life with God doesn't always work out like you think it should. High expectations slam against the reality of personal weaknesses and unwelcome surprises. And the God who, you've been told, wants a personal relationship with you may seem remote, emotionally unavailable. Is God playing games? What can you count on this God for? How can you know God? This relationship with a God you can’t see, hear, or touch--how does it really work? Reaching for the Invisible God offers deep, satisfying insights to the questions you are sometimes afraid to ask. Honest and deeply personal, here is straight talk on Christian living for the reader who wants more than pat answers to life's imponderables. Ultimately, Yancey shifts the focus from your questions to the One who offers himself in answer. "A brilliant book. It is both profound and simple, the best blend, in my view. Simple is neither shallow, nor simplistic. The sections on doubt and God's 'absence' are classics." -- Rick Warren, pastor and author, The Purpose Driven Life


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"How do I relate to a God who is invisible when I'm never quite sure he's there?" -- Philip Yancey Life with God doesn't always work out like you think it should. High expectations slam against the reality of personal weaknesses and unwelcome surprises. And the God who, you've been told, wants a personal relationship with you may seem remote, emotionally unavailable. Is God "How do I relate to a God who is invisible when I'm never quite sure he's there?" -- Philip Yancey Life with God doesn't always work out like you think it should. High expectations slam against the reality of personal weaknesses and unwelcome surprises. And the God who, you've been told, wants a personal relationship with you may seem remote, emotionally unavailable. Is God playing games? What can you count on this God for? How can you know God? This relationship with a God you can’t see, hear, or touch--how does it really work? Reaching for the Invisible God offers deep, satisfying insights to the questions you are sometimes afraid to ask. Honest and deeply personal, here is straight talk on Christian living for the reader who wants more than pat answers to life's imponderables. Ultimately, Yancey shifts the focus from your questions to the One who offers himself in answer. "A brilliant book. It is both profound and simple, the best blend, in my view. Simple is neither shallow, nor simplistic. The sections on doubt and God's 'absence' are classics." -- Rick Warren, pastor and author, The Purpose Driven Life

30 review for Reaching for the Invisible God: What Can We Expect to Find?

  1. 5 out of 5

    7jane

    I've never quite had a problem in believing in God (though I haven't had it tested by illnesses, situations or flawed people - yet). But anyway, this book still benefited me in its own way. It didn't come to answers too quickly which is good for reaching the point of solidifying better one's connection (and belief) with God. I think it also explained the 'dry periods' and how to respond to trying times well enough that one might be better equipped to dealing with them - always good to know befor I've never quite had a problem in believing in God (though I haven't had it tested by illnesses, situations or flawed people - yet). But anyway, this book still benefited me in its own way. It didn't come to answers too quickly which is good for reaching the point of solidifying better one's connection (and belief) with God. I think it also explained the 'dry periods' and how to respond to trying times well enough that one might be better equipped to dealing with them - always good to know beforehand since it keeps one's faith from trembling too much in those moments. It also explained well how to react when the answer to prayer isn't a solution to the problem one wants to be released from (but asking for strength to accept/bear it might fare better). It might benefit a bit more those who aren't currently in crisis and who are open to be convinced enough. Other books of his deal with crisis people might have, this one's more about connection and it isn't like people have with each other and other things. But in any case, this was a good book to read, for me and perhaps for you :)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I really loved this book. It discusses the difficulty we have in trying to understand and build a close relationship with the God we cannot see. The times when He feels elusive to us. The times when we need to just gut it out on our faith alone because we can't hear his voice or see his face. It normalized the struggle I feel to consistently feel God's influence in my life. I think it is excellently written. I really loved this book. It discusses the difficulty we have in trying to understand and build a close relationship with the God we cannot see. The times when He feels elusive to us. The times when we need to just gut it out on our faith alone because we can't hear his voice or see his face. It normalized the struggle I feel to consistently feel God's influence in my life. I think it is excellently written.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    The thing I really like about Yancey is that it seems like he asks the same questions I do in my own mind.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Leila

    Useful and interesting for both believers and unbelievers. Not a book to just read straight through.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Becki

    Synopsis from B&N: How does a relationship with God really work? How do I relate to a God who is invisible, when I'm never quite sure he's there? How do I know him? How do I communicate with him? How do I live my life growing in my understanding of him, living more and more with a conscious awareness of him, doing more of those things he indicates are good for me--and others?\nOkay, first I have a very embarrassing confession to make: I have owned this book for over a decade (bought summer of 20 Synopsis from B&N: How does a relationship with God really work? How do I relate to a God who is invisible, when I'm never quite sure he's there? How do I know him? How do I communicate with him? How do I live my life growing in my understanding of him, living more and more with a conscious awareness of him, doing more of those things he indicates are good for me--and others?\nOkay, first I have a very embarrassing confession to make: I have owned this book for over a decade (bought summer of 2001) and have never read it. This is part of my reason for my personal �read through the bookshelves� challenge. And in good news linked to that goal, I only have ONE (yes, that�s right, 1) booked checked out from the library currently. AND IT GETS BETTER�that book is my book club book for March. So after a year or so of playing around with me goal, I�m actually forcing myself to read the things on my shelves.\nThe results�\nGreat finds like this book by Philip Yancey. It was such an encouraging read. I�m going through a season of life when God, quite frankly, seems not here. And it�s been frustrating and I wonder what I�ve done to push Him away. In this book, I found hope and answers. We all go through seasons where we don�t �feel� God, but He�s still right there. And I just need to keep doing what I know to do in life and keep seeking Him. Keep the focus. \nA relationship with an invisible God is in many ways more challenging than with the visible people in my life. But He�s much more gracious regarding my foibles and failed attempts to connect. \nI recommend this for any believer�or for anyone searching for if there even is a God.\n

  6. 4 out of 5

    amber

    I’ve wanted to read Philip Yancey for a long time and picked up this book because a friend of mine was reading it and I love reading books alongside others. I wondered if I would find the book worth the time it would take to read (it’s lengthy for the Christian Living category) since I didn’t feel I identified with, at this point in my life, the questions put forth on the covers. I must have been wrong in that assessment, however, as I found the book ministering to me on almost every page. I fel I’ve wanted to read Philip Yancey for a long time and picked up this book because a friend of mine was reading it and I love reading books alongside others. I wondered if I would find the book worth the time it would take to read (it’s lengthy for the Christian Living category) since I didn’t feel I identified with, at this point in my life, the questions put forth on the covers. I must have been wrong in that assessment, however, as I found the book ministering to me on almost every page. I felt I’d found a kindred spirit in so many of my reflections, which itself was nourishing. Many of the authors he incorporates into his writing are some of my favorites. Overall, the book is wrestling with questions relating to having a relationship with the One who is completely other. So if you are not God and are seeking a relationship with Him, this book might interest you. However, I must mention that I believe Yancey sees himself first as a pilgrim rather than a pastor or a theologian (which is not to say that he is not pastoral or has unorthodox theology). People of this ilk (C.S. Lewis was one) tend to minister deeply to some people and frustrate others. If you find such authors frustrating, this book may not be for you.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)

    If you sometimes feel like holding onto your faith seems impossible at times because the world just doesn't seem to show God's presence. If you feel that you are losing your hold on what you believe, this is a great book to read. It reaffirms your faith, not by chastisting you for your unbelief, but by showing you that you are not alone in your doubts. That other, even notable Christians, have struggled in the same way. I enjoyed the scholarly, yet emotional tone, and I feel it was well-written. If you sometimes feel like holding onto your faith seems impossible at times because the world just doesn't seem to show God's presence. If you feel that you are losing your hold on what you believe, this is a great book to read. It reaffirms your faith, not by chastisting you for your unbelief, but by showing you that you are not alone in your doubts. That other, even notable Christians, have struggled in the same way. I enjoyed the scholarly, yet emotional tone, and I feel it was well-written. The author took a problem-based approach, and by the end of the book, you realize that your issues with doubt are not the huge boulder on your back that you thought. Instead, you will realize that it is just an integral part of your walk as a Christian in this world. Highly recommended for the searching, new Christian, longtime Christian, and the struggling Christian.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brent Soderstrum

    Yancey does a good job tying up the points he brings out in the book at the end. He writes about how we all have our struggles in dealing with an invisible God based on the bad things that happen in this world to believers. He brings out the important point that God takes those bad things that happen to us and ironically uses them to bring about good things. I have experienced exactly that in my life. He also discusses how we grow spiritually from a child, to an adult and finally to a parent. If Yancey does a good job tying up the points he brings out in the book at the end. He writes about how we all have our struggles in dealing with an invisible God based on the bad things that happen in this world to believers. He brings out the important point that God takes those bad things that happen to us and ironically uses them to bring about good things. I have experienced exactly that in my life. He also discusses how we grow spiritually from a child, to an adult and finally to a parent. If you are a parent, think of how you love your children and will sacrifice for them. Eventually we as Christians get to the point where we are willing to sacrifice for others by serving them. We become God's hands and feet. Yancey always gives down to earth examples and asks the questions I find myself asking. Good read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Raymond

    I knew that God can't be reached the way I reach things or someone. But I don't really know how to "connect" to Him better. I always got fail to love and believe Him merely by reading Bible and Prayers. But, after I read this book, I learned that God can only be reached within my soul, my heart and my faith. He is living inside me, He is not so far enough. He is with me. He want me to glorify His name by anything I did, I said and I thought. Reach the invisible God is the high recommended book fo I knew that God can't be reached the way I reach things or someone. But I don't really know how to "connect" to Him better. I always got fail to love and believe Him merely by reading Bible and Prayers. But, after I read this book, I learned that God can only be reached within my soul, my heart and my faith. He is living inside me, He is not so far enough. He is with me. He want me to glorify His name by anything I did, I said and I thought. Reach the invisible God is the high recommended book for those who have difficulties to find God in better way....

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Yancey is a pilgrim on the journey of faith who is kind enough to share his journey with the rest of us. I always find myself being blessed, encouraged, and challenged when reading his works. This book was about relating to a God who we cannot see. It was amazing!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Narwhal

    Reading Philip Yancey's books is like sitting down for coffee with a friend who went to a Christian liberal arts college and majored in English. Or classics. Less like a book and more like a conversation focused on stories and manyyy references, which made it enjoyable to identify thinkers in the Christian tradition. References ranged from The British Poets Herbert Spencer, John Donne & GMH, St. Augustine, Brother Lawrence, Thomas Merton, Flannery O'Connor, Dorothy Sayers, of course C.S. Lewis, Reading Philip Yancey's books is like sitting down for coffee with a friend who went to a Christian liberal arts college and majored in English. Or classics. Less like a book and more like a conversation focused on stories and manyyy references, which made it enjoyable to identify thinkers in the Christian tradition. References ranged from The British Poets Herbert Spencer, John Donne & GMH, St. Augustine, Brother Lawrence, Thomas Merton, Flannery O'Connor, Dorothy Sayers, of course C.S. Lewis, GK Chesterton, Anne Lamott, and even secular writer Kundera. In an attempt to refuse answering the question with formulaic answers, Yancey moves the reader from a prescriptive view of our relationship with God to a descriptive one. He did this through the wisdom of countless others. Another way to describe this format is in terms of academic articles– a review paper versus a primary source. A drawback is that in attempting to show the matter-of-fact ordinariness and lack of answers in the faith, Yancey's presentation can seem like pressing forward with no tangible (spiritual) reward until the final curtain. I think this is because he was trying to move to a more responsible version of the faith where we do not simply see God as a slot machine. I do think regardless that some nuance could be lost in the way he presents the ideas; he works hard to undo fixed preconceptions of God we might have, and move us to a more uncertain position. The new life is less defined and expanded upon. My favorite parts included where he spoke of the importance of discipline ('Just as Lewis studied Greek grammar not in order to parse verbs but to read poetry, I play scales on the piano only because of what they will enable me to play) & Dorothy Sayers. Especially this part, which I think sums up the point of the book– Sayers "does not see life as a problem to be solved, but as a medium for creation." (272)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mwrogers

    I always learn so much from Yancey. He incorporates life experiences and the knowledge of other authors into his lessons. I did not know the story behind the west window of the Winchester Cathedral in England. The stained glass windows were destroyed during the time of Oliver Cromwell. The faithful gathered the shards of broken glass. When it was safe, the window was reconstructed. It wasn't put back into the same biblical scenes that it had once portrayed. That was impossible. But out of the des I always learn so much from Yancey. He incorporates life experiences and the knowledge of other authors into his lessons. I did not know the story behind the west window of the Winchester Cathedral in England. The stained glass windows were destroyed during the time of Oliver Cromwell. The faithful gathered the shards of broken glass. When it was safe, the window was reconstructed. It wasn't put back into the same biblical scenes that it had once portrayed. That was impossible. But out of the destroyed window - the broken glass - a new window was made. Different, but possibly more beautiful than the original. That is such a portrait of life. The evil of this world can and will break us. It is a fallen world. But if we allow God to redeem and rebuild our brokenness, we can become beautiful in an entirely new way.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Davis Smith

    An inspirational and surface-level theological book that tackles issues that all Christians grapple with. A great, layed-back read to spark some vigor into your Christian life. A general tendency I’ve noticed among Christian writers is to pepper their arguments with anecdotes and testimonies to a detrimental extreme. I suppose this helps some, but those who want to truly sink into the author’s ideas may be disappointed. Recommended with very few reservations.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    What I like about Yancey I find true in all of his works... he does not hesitate to grapple with difficult issues, and be provocatively honest about the issues he takes up. This book is long and sometimes hard to follow. That said, I "read" this book as an audiobook, so I only got 20-25 minute doses at a time, and this may have played a part in making it hard to follow. Yancey basically deals with the issue of humans relating to God (the Christian God). What expectations should we have for such What I like about Yancey I find true in all of his works... he does not hesitate to grapple with difficult issues, and be provocatively honest about the issues he takes up. This book is long and sometimes hard to follow. That said, I "read" this book as an audiobook, so I only got 20-25 minute doses at a time, and this may have played a part in making it hard to follow. Yancey basically deals with the issue of humans relating to God (the Christian God). What expectations should we have for such a relationship? Should we expect God to speak to us as other humans do? Not everyone is interested in mulling over this topic, but anyone who is in a relationship with God will want to give this book a try, but again, it is philosophical and deep at times. Were the book a bit shorter and written a bit clearer, I would have easily given it 4 or 5 stars. The one issue that really struck me was the following... Because God is spirit, and our being is spirit, God does not typically speak to us using audio waves, vocal cords, etc. Rather, he speaks to us spirit to spirit. Hearing it sounds so obvious and simple, but it was a concept I had never really thought about. Although it may not be the first book I'd recommend that someone should go out and read, one can never go wrong reading through a work by Yancey.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Philip Yancey is one of my favourite modern Christian authors; he writes honestly, without being over-religious or assuming that everyone is the same. He addresses the kinds of questions that Christians (and others) have about God. How is it that we can 'have a relationship' with Someone who is invisible and intangible? What does it mean to relate anyway? Can we really know God? Peppered with anecdotes, this book is refreshing and insightful. It's not something to read all in one sitting: there's Philip Yancey is one of my favourite modern Christian authors; he writes honestly, without being over-religious or assuming that everyone is the same. He addresses the kinds of questions that Christians (and others) have about God. How is it that we can 'have a relationship' with Someone who is invisible and intangible? What does it mean to relate anyway? Can we really know God? Peppered with anecdotes, this book is refreshing and insightful. It's not something to read all in one sitting: there's too much to take in. Mostly I read a few pages every day or two, sometimes a whole chapter, sometimes nothing. I found it inspiring in a low-key, comfortable sort of way. I do like it when an author writes in the way I would like to write, expressing sentiments that have occurred to me... yet with his own slant, and circumstances quite different from my own. Highly recommended to anyone who likes a thoughtful Christian book. On second reading, five years after the first, I found it a bit slow-moving and less inspiring in the early sections, but much more thought-provoking in the second half. Still five stars overall.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    I don't know why I keep reading books like this. I guess I'm hoping to find something new and compelling from the Christian perspective. This book offers nothing new, and it definitely doesn't offer anything compelling. This book is boring, annoyingly repetitive, and a complete waste of time. In the beginning of the book, Yancey says, "To my shame, I admit that one of the strongest reasons I stay in the fold [Christianity] is the lack of good alternatives." He then goes on to stress throughout t I don't know why I keep reading books like this. I guess I'm hoping to find something new and compelling from the Christian perspective. This book offers nothing new, and it definitely doesn't offer anything compelling. This book is boring, annoyingly repetitive, and a complete waste of time. In the beginning of the book, Yancey says, "To my shame, I admit that one of the strongest reasons I stay in the fold [Christianity] is the lack of good alternatives." He then goes on to stress throughout the entire book the importance of keeping one's faith in the Christian God of the Bible (not just any idea of God will do) despite the lack of evidence of God's existence. It reminds me of a quote from Sam Harris... "It is time that we admitted that faith is nothing more than the license religious people give each other to keep believing when reasons fail. When we have reasons for what we believe, we have no need of faith; where we have no reasons, we have lost both our connection to the world and to one another."

  17. 5 out of 5

    Matthijs

    Seldom have I read a book that I can relate to in such an extent as with this book by Philip Yancey. The vivid description of his struggles with doubt, scepticism and unbelief deeply connects with the same processes in my own life. It is comforting to read a book that comes close to my own experiences, but is written by someone who has survived, has grown further and, at the same time, is an example of how to live your life as a christian with those nagging feelings never completely gone. The boo Seldom have I read a book that I can relate to in such an extent as with this book by Philip Yancey. The vivid description of his struggles with doubt, scepticism and unbelief deeply connects with the same processes in my own life. It is comforting to read a book that comes close to my own experiences, but is written by someone who has survived, has grown further and, at the same time, is an example of how to live your life as a christian with those nagging feelings never completely gone. The book inspired me to take my doubts and scepticism seriously, but also acknowledge that it is never and end station, but an 'in transit' towards a deeper trust in and understanding of God.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    This was a longer read where I had to spend time reflecting to get through it. Yancey asks interesting questions like: "What can we expect of God?" since we are in relationship with him. He explains how things have to be different with God than with people. What are the stages of faith and what do they look like? And many other reflections. Ultimately, it is a good book for those of us that continually worry about where we are in our faith and have to honestly ask some of the harder questions whe This was a longer read where I had to spend time reflecting to get through it. Yancey asks interesting questions like: "What can we expect of God?" since we are in relationship with him. He explains how things have to be different with God than with people. What are the stages of faith and what do they look like? And many other reflections. Ultimately, it is a good book for those of us that continually worry about where we are in our faith and have to honestly ask some of the harder questions when it seems like God maybe isn't there.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Conrad

    Philip Yancey never fails to satisfy his readers. He doesn't take a simplistic or formulaic approach or write just to get another book out there (as it seems so many are inclined to do). Rather, his books are thoughtful and provocative - and not necessarily filling in the blanks for the reader. This book begins with doubt and unbelief and moves to faith using many examples and quoting many writers (I always enjoy his quotes since they lead me to other writers I haven't read). I think this may be Philip Yancey never fails to satisfy his readers. He doesn't take a simplistic or formulaic approach or write just to get another book out there (as it seems so many are inclined to do). Rather, his books are thoughtful and provocative - and not necessarily filling in the blanks for the reader. This book begins with doubt and unbelief and moves to faith using many examples and quoting many writers (I always enjoy his quotes since they lead me to other writers I haven't read). I think this may be among his best work that I've read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    This may be one of the most significant books of my life. It is beyond amazing! Great examples and analogies from Yancey's life, spiritual leaders, everyday folks, and the Bible. Beautiful quotes, well- reaserched. It has helped fine-tune my perception of God. It has helped clear up some of my doubts and questions with His grace and compassion. - And it has helped helped me to embrace and rest in other questions that may never be answered. Here we go! I am starting from the beginning and going f This may be one of the most significant books of my life. It is beyond amazing! Great examples and analogies from Yancey's life, spiritual leaders, everyday folks, and the Bible. Beautiful quotes, well- reaserched. It has helped fine-tune my perception of God. It has helped clear up some of my doubts and questions with His grace and compassion. - And it has helped helped me to embrace and rest in other questions that may never be answered. Here we go! I am starting from the beginning and going for round 2!

  21. 5 out of 5

    drowningmermaid

    How can the author (and the devoted readers) fail to see the utter, glaring fallacy of saying "I'm a worm. Everything good in me comes from God, everything bad in me comes from myself." AND "I want to be more myself."? God shining through you does not make you more yourself. God is God. You are you. Individual self-worth does not come from God, it comes from being a unique human individual. How can the author (and the devoted readers) fail to see the utter, glaring fallacy of saying "I'm a worm. Everything good in me comes from God, everything bad in me comes from myself." AND "I want to be more myself."? God shining through you does not make you more yourself. God is God. You are you. Individual self-worth does not come from God, it comes from being a unique human individual.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Keri Daskam

    Some moments of this book I really liked and some I really loved. It was a really good one for me and reminded me of several other favorites I've read. Many of his big points rang true, and I also really liked his writing style and the flow of the book. It came highly recommended on all accounts, and I would recommend it highly as well. Some moments of this book I really liked and some I really loved. It was a really good one for me and reminded me of several other favorites I've read. Many of his big points rang true, and I also really liked his writing style and the flow of the book. It came highly recommended on all accounts, and I would recommend it highly as well.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kait

    I really enjoyed this book in the sense of it gave me a lot to think about. I have to say that reading a chapter a week was not condusive to actually getting "into" the pulp of the matter, and I found it interrupted the flow. I will definitely read this book again, in a front-to-back manner. I really enjoyed this book in the sense of it gave me a lot to think about. I have to say that reading a chapter a week was not condusive to actually getting "into" the pulp of the matter, and I found it interrupted the flow. I will definitely read this book again, in a front-to-back manner.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    I really can't remember what I got out of this. Not that I had to get anything out of it. But I think this book reinforced a lot of things I already knew and changed my thinking a bit. I may have to go back and read it again... I really can't remember what I got out of this. Not that I had to get anything out of it. But I think this book reinforced a lot of things I already knew and changed my thinking a bit. I may have to go back and read it again...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Deanna

    What haven't I learned from Philip Yancey? He asserts the struggle of relating to an invisible God, yet doesn't deny God as good or sovereign or holy, etc. He relates stories that push me to examine myself and to seek Jesus. What haven't I learned from Philip Yancey? He asserts the struggle of relating to an invisible God, yet doesn't deny God as good or sovereign or holy, etc. He relates stories that push me to examine myself and to seek Jesus.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sam Kang

    God is like a person playing hide & seek and at the last minute clears his throat.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sneha

    great for the doubting and disillusioned. like me.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amy Young

    Oh to be able to write like Yancey!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Samuel

    Great book to help u think abt even more things

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lila

    Excellent. His writing is so fluid, clear and honest.

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