By Joanna Smith
Wounds are Where Light Enters is an extraordinary book that explores God’s grace being shown in many unexpected ways. Walt Wangerin Jr. emphasizes how God’s grace can be seen through the unlikeliest of people and through the strangest experiences in one’s life; he does this by providing examples from his own experience as a preacher and a father. The examples he uses seem to directly point to a Christian audience. He does this in order to get their attention about how they should live out their life for Christ, through their actions and through everything they do. The personal stories within this book have the ability to transform your perspective on the world and what it means to live out your life following Christ’s will.
Wangerin expresses God’s grace appearing through the act of a homeless woman giving all she has. He reports, “She fumbled through the pockets of a sweater, then brought out a number of coins and put them in the poor-box. She crossed herself and left the chapel. A witness, she was, walking the Way of the Cross… ‘Mary,’ I whispered. ‘There he is. There is Jesus ahead of us. In that woman.” In this instance, Wangerin reveals how God can be seen through the example of people from whom we would least expect it from. God can appear and move in mysterious ways, and Wangerin proves this through the authenticity he expresses in his writing. He writes in a way that draws you in by sharing stories which makes you think about the way you live your life and whether it is how God wants you to live.
Wangerin is not only a witness of God’s grace but also a partaker. After an experience with disciplining his child in order to get him to stop disobeying, Wangerin learns from his wife, why his son had eventually listened. It was not because of the discipline or the multiple warnings he had received beforehand, but because his father cried after having to discipline him. Wangerin states, “Mercy hath a human face. It is not the administration of the Law. It is mercy that transfigures us.” God’s grace and mercy for us is an opportunity to change our lifestyle in a way that is pleasing to him. He shows us grace and mercy because he loves us, but since we are sinners, sometimes he has to discipline us in order to set us on the right path. It’s his grace and mercy that give us the chance to change.
The raw and touching stories within this novel can change a person’s heart and make them want to live their whole life for Christ. The very real experiences and examples of Christ working through ordinary people’s lives that Wangerin expresses can influence a person and who they want to be. I had never read any of his works until now. I was looking for something to read, and happened to read the title and was immediately drawn in. It sounded interesting to me because it related to how there can still be good, even in the difficult times, and I was curious as to how I could witness this within my own life. Little did I realize that it would change my perspective on what it means to live out the Christian life. To be a Christian means to serve, to put others before you, and it means to forgive those who seem like they should never be forgiven. It means to live life in a way that Christ would want you to live. Wangerin emphasizes this in a narrative that he tells about an old man he had taken food too. The old man was a slob and did seem thankful that Wangerin had brought him food at all. Afterwards, Wangerin realized that it did not matter whether the man was thankful, it mattered that he had served. In a response to God, Wangerin states, “Why do you serve me? Why do you allay my hunger with food? There is but one right answer. ‘Because you asked me.’ That were enough to say. But better than that answer is this: ‘And because I love you’.” Wangerin served the least of these because that’s what God wanted him to do. All God wants us to do, is to be willing to follow him, and Wangerin was. Wangerin does a great job at expressing how people may make assumptions or believe a certain thing, but then God can completely turn our lives upside down and all around.
The overall point within the book is finding God’s grace in the world, but I also felt like it was to show how God can work through ordinary people. One instance would be after one of his adopted daughters found her birth mother. It took her a long time and they dealt with many dead ends until they eventually found her birth family. Wangerin soon discovered that his daughter’s birth grandma had prayed for her nonstop. Wangerin says, “And Thanne and I are no less her parents than we had been before. So is Mary her parent. And so is God the Father. Oh, how wonderful are the wounds and the intrusion of the Lord, whose glory bursts upon us especially at the changings of our lives.” In this and many of the other stories, we learn how Wangerin has witnessed God working through people’s lives around him.
This book shows how God is there not only through the good times, but he is also there through the difficult times. His grace is there for us to receive at every moment, but we need to be willing to listen. We need to be willing to follow Him, and live our lives for Christ. Life is hard, but Wangerin shows that God is there through it all. He is there in our disobedience and in our sinfulness, but he is also there in our joy. He shows us grace and gives it in order to teach us. Through the examples that Wangerin provides within his stories, we can learn what it means to be a Christian and live out our life following the Lord. This was an amazing book which I would definitely recommend reading. It might change your life.