N.D. Wilson makes it clear from the beginning that the focus of his latest work, Death by Living: Life is Meant to be Spent is on “a way of living, a way of receiving life” (p. xi). He uses a variety of examples to illustrate our inability to control the circumstantial ebb and flow of our lives. The two most vivid are the stories of how each of his grandfathers, James Wilson (USS Brush) and Lawrence Greensides (Guadalcanal), narrowly escaped death in World War Two. Although our modern day-to-day lives don’t seem quite as exciting as WWII, Mr. Wilson reminds us that:
“Death is now. The choice is here. Lay your life down. 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. With an average life expectancy of 78.2 years in the US (subtracting eight hours a day for sleep), I have around 250,000 conscious hours remaining to me in which I could be smiling or scowling, rejoicing in my life, in this race, in this story, or moaning and complaining about my troubles. I can be giving my fingers, my back, my mind, my words, my breaths, to my wife and my children and my neighbors, or I can grasp after the vapor and the vanity for myself, dragging my feet, afraid to die and therefore afraid to live. And, like Adam, I will still die in the end.
Living is the same thing as dying. Living well is the same thing as dying for others (p. 84).”
The only “flaw” in this book is that the “spoken wordesque” chapter intros seem a bit choppy, however that may have been intentional given the photo of the ocean on the cover and the author’s comparison of time to a river (ebb and flow, ebb and flow), Death by Living is a wonderful book and a storyteller’s illustration of the primary point of Ecclesiastes and the life of the Christian. I much prefer this “type” of Christian living book. I’ve read far too many “how to”, legalistic books on how to live the Christian life. In fact, the women’s market is over saturated. Books such as Death by Living get the point across but do so in a way that leaves the door open for the reader to think about how the ideas may apply in their own life without coming across as a thesis from a tiny dictator with a book deal. I give it five stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”