Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004
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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
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****Winged Life

by Hannah Hurnard

Reviewed September 12, 2004.
Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois, 1998.  Originally published in 1978.  173 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004, #6, Nonfiction Old Favorites

My Mom had a collection of Hannah Hurnard’s books, and I read them when I was in high school, beginning with the classic allegory Hinds Feet on High Places.  A few years ago, I decided to buy a set of the books for myself to reread them as an adult.

Winged Life is a simple little book about transforming your thought life, “bringing every thought captive to obedience to Christ.”  It’s a book for Christians who want to live the Christian life more fully.  The ideas are simple, but I was appalled and humbled to discover how hard they are to carry out.

Early in the book, Hannah Hurnard presents three secrets to victorious Christian living and creative power.  First, “go through each day praising God for everything; the bad things as well as the good.”

Second, “Don’t try to hold on to anything in this life, but willingly let go, in order to be able to receive new enrichment from the Lord.”

Third, “Everything that is willingly laid down into death will beraised to life in some radiant new form and with creative power.”

She gives illustrations and talks about how these principles havecome alive in her own life.

Next, she presents five keys to victory in the thought life, so you can truly enjoy the “winged life” of the title.  The keys are vows she took to change her behavior.

The first key is that, “by God’s grace and power, we will never again utter a criticizing or disparaging or unkind or unloving remark aboutanyone else.”  This is the old proverb that if you can’t say somethingnice, don’t say anything at all.  You’ll find that if you don’t sayunkind things, it will be much easier not to think them.

I didn’t realize until I reread this book how much I have fallen away from this goal.  I think of myself as a kind person, but I hadn’tnoticed how often I say mean little things or speak against someone tobe clever.

The second key is to avoid “drawing the attention of others to our own supposed merits, usefulness and Christian witness.”  This one, too, is more difficult than it appears at first.

The third key is that “all grumbling and discontented talk must cease.”  It’s easy to think that you don’t complain much, but when you try to stop ALL grumbling, you begin to notice how many times you think you can make one little exception.

Her fourth key is never “to use our imaginations in order to picture ourselves in the chief role.”

For her fifth key, she freely admits from the beginning that “ourLord does not lead all his children to exactly the same conclusions.”  She was lead to completely cut off all reading of fiction.

Now, you’ll realize by the fact that I’m still writing Sonderbooks that I didn’t take on this last goal for my own.  I still feel called to be a writer, and it wouldn’t make sense for a writer not to read.  As for the fourth goal, my sister Wendy pointed out the value of visualizing ourselves reaching our goals, as well as how dreams can show you your true heart’s desires.

However, I think both keys have something I can learn from them.  First, a caution about daydreams of glory, and second to think twice before I indulge in reading smut, to think through whether any given book will uplift me or bring me down.

Meanwhile, there was plenty in this little book for me to think over and to strive for.  Here’s an inspiring message from one who truly loved the Lord with all her heart and all her mind.

Review of another book by Hannah Hurnard:
Hearing Heart

Reader comment:  My brother Jeff points out that if you keep your mouth shut until you're furious, you'll learn that every disagreement has tobe angry.  "To be always nice, and never criticize, is not alwaysloving. Jesus said mean things to the Pharisees."  I have to agreewith him.  As with most things, balance is required.  Life wouldbe simpler if a simple rule like these "keys" could be applied to everysituation.  I do think that, at this point in my life, I need to workon saying fewer unkind things, not more.  And I never saw disagreeingwith someone as necessarily being unkind, which is something my husbandand I don't necessarily agree about. 

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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