Heavy on “What” but Light on “How”

9781601429537I was immediately drawn into this book. In the preface, Erwin McManus reveals that while he was writing The Last Arrow: Save Nothing For the Next Life, he had cancer but did not know it. He admits that writing a book about living without fear and regret became a prophetic word to himself as he edited the book under the cloud of his diagnosis.

In the body of the book, McManus uses the story of Elisha and King Joash in 2 Kings 13:14-19 and the image of striking arrows as the jumping off point to talk about we can live a life where we hold nothing back. McManus rightfully reminds us, “You have one life to use everything you have been entrusted with, so you might as well save nothing for the next life” (30).

In the subsequent chapters McManus speaks to ideas like letting go of the past, recognizing that other people depend on your life and knowing what we want out of life. He speaks to these ideas with the familiar interlacing of personal stories and biblical illustrations.

One of the issues I have with “pop” Christian books, and The Last Arrow falls into this category, is that it is hard for the reader to relate to many of the personal stories of the author. I’ve never had a conversation with a billionaire. I’ve never been to war-torn Syria. I’ve never been disinvited to speak at a large conference. It’s not to say that the reader cannot gain insights from the life experience of the author but that life experience has to be translatable to the life experience of the reader and at times McManus’ life experience doesn’t translate well.

That brings me to the one main critique I have of The Last Arrow: it is heavy on the “what” but light on the “how.” I think the main ideas McManus presents are right and true but in order to engage more readers and move those readers to a lasting change in the way they live their lives, it would be helpful if McManus spent more time explaining how we find great people with which to surround ourselves. Or how do we discover who we are? Or how do we know what parts of our pasts we need to set on fire, like Elisha did? Readers that see this weakness can fill in the gaps themselves as they work through the book’s ideas and their implications.

Overall, however, the book was an engaging read and one that if you’ve read other of McManus’ books, I think you’ll appreciate. I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.

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