Turning 50 years old and facing some of life’s biggest questions are daunting challenges. A crisis of faith and crisis of health lead towards significant changes in one’s life. For Bruce Matson, a family man with a successful law practice, the struggles of health and doubt led to action. Combining to podcasts from notable Christian leaders Ravi Zacharias, Allistair Begg, and Tim Keller, careful research and preparation, and encouragement from family and friends, Bruce ran his race for physical and spiritual health.
The Race Before Us by Bruce Matson is a wonderful memoir detailing the path of doubt to faith and spiritual malaise to running with God. Come alongside Bruce as he navigates the windy roads of faith and health in his pursuit of physical and spiritual well-being.
- It was OK but nothing profound
I was expecting that the author would tie in his experience and trials at preparing for a marathon with his growth in his understanding of God and his faith. However, it really is two separate story lines; each interesting in its own way but not necessary to the other.
- Didn't expect it to be this good - good content, well-written, and practically useful.
If you need a boost in your own spiritual walk, or need to work on disciplining yourself to spend more time with God and in the word, read this. As an athlete myself, always trying to train my body for the best performance, I found this so helpful.
He connects training your body with training your mind, and ultimately, your heart. How you live physically can affect how you live spiritually.
Also, aside from the content, I found it very easy to listen to - like reading a good novel. I was really pleasantly surprised with this read. Don't miss out.
- Didn't grab me even after several chapters
This book never grabbed my attention even after several chapters.
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- Middle of the pack
Here's my problem with this book. I'm in my mid-fifties, healthy, fit, still athletically involved, well read in scripture and apologetics and grateful for God's mercy in these and other areas of life. Essentially, I've run a lot of the race described in this book before the author even laced up his sneakers. There are better books on running. There are better books on apologetics. There are better books on following Jesus. The uniqueness of this audiobook is that it combines all three and the author does a decent job of that. All in all, not bad, not great, but sometimes crossing the finish line or at least giving it your best means more than winning.
- Very enjoyable and challenging book
I truly enjoyed this book for the most part, and the person who read it for the audio recording did a truly excellent job. It sounded as though Bruce was actually telling me the story.
In this book, Bruce mostly tells the story of two journeys he went through at the same time, a physical and a spiritual, while going through a mid-life crisis. Though I think the author had some intent to present the physical and spiritual journeys with some sort of tie to each other, the only congruity between the two was that they took place at the same time time for him. Other than that, it felt like two entirely different stories. The author spends one or two chapters at a time solely focused on either the spiritual or physical journey, but when he talks about the physical journey, he gives such an exorbitant amount of details that I felt he was trying go back to sports writing (an art he claims to have done much in the past) than to illustrate the spiritual with the physical. In the forward, he gives some details about his intent with the book, so perhaps he states his intent plainly and I just missed it.
That being said, this truly is a great book with excellent apologetic arguments, and even physical running stories are enjoyable. I truly related with the struggles Mr. Matson went through in his spiritual journey, and I think the book will greatly bless those who read or listen to it.
- Great Book
Excellent book for apologetics. I enjoyed hearing his journey of faith and find my own testimony being similar in that I grew tremendously when I began to listen to sound biblical teachers via podcast. I can understand the authors intent to tie in his spiritual journey with his physical journey, but I wish the book had less about running and more about God. It was particularly interesting to get the point of view of an attorney and his quest to answer the hard questions of Christianity.
- Running and Apologetics
The Race Before Us by Bruce H. Matson is a lot more interesting than I thought it would be based on the title and the description. It combines several different elements together that actually work together quite well as a collective whole. The first of these elements is the running aspect where the author has decided to run a marathon despite being well past his physical prime and the training and learning that go along with it.
The second element is the apologetics, which are discussed in great detail and relate to the spiritual journey of discovery that he is running. The last element is the experience of getting older and how he is dealing with the changing goals and weaker body.
I found this book quite interesting as I have never been much of a runner, so the process he went through in training, learning helpful techniques, was very informative. Also the apologetics was done quite well as I had heard a lot of it before but it was presented in a fresh way that made me think about it again.
The narration was very easy to listen to and it flowed along nicely, which is essential when you are busy and don't have the time to sit down, concentrate and soak in every word.
This is a great book for anyone interested in running or apologetics because it covers both topics quite well. It would also be good for approaching middle age and wondering what is next.
This audio book was gifted as a part of the christianaudio Reviewers Program in exchange for my unbiased review of this work. More information can be found about this and other Christian audio books at christianaudio.com.
- Best book I have read in a decade!
This review, by Dr. Nicholson, has been provided courtesy of Desert Bible Institute www.desertbibleinstitute.com.
In a reader’s life a number of books come and go. Some books are for study, some are read for the pure pleasure of it, and still others help us with the problems that loom ominously before us. On rare occasions, maybe once a decade, there comes along a book that does all three. It dazzles and delights us. We keep a special copy of it in easy reach to refer to it again and again. We recommend it to others, and we give it as gifts knowing that it will touch other lives the way in which it has touched ours. The Race Before Us, by Bruce Matson, is just such a book.
Bruce Maton writes this book as he comes to a turning point in his life. He is about to turn 50 and while he has been a success, by all measures of the world, he knows something is missing. There’s a sense of “What’s next; where do I go from here?” looming in his not so distant future. He, like many people, has not only questions but also a dissatisfaction with the status quo that the world has to offer.
There are 3 primary elements to this book. The first is a narrative about a middle-aged man looking to reclaim some of the athletic prowess of his youth. He does this initially out of a need to stave off the possibility of diabetes or even a heart attack. Over time however, he does it to reclaim something he lost: a sense of accomplishment and exhilaration that most of us remember for our youth, but that we shrug off as unattainable in later life. Bruce, as the protagonist and narrator of this story, is easy to relate to. He shares the very real struggles of somebody for whom running does not come easy. In the early part of the book, he brags to his wife how he was able to run for five minutes straight. He takes you along on a journey filled with pains and set-backs to arrive at his goal, running a marathon. This narrative will encourage and advise anyone wanting to get back in shape or be a better runner. If this was the whole story, this would be a pleasant enough book, but it’s not.
The second part of this book is dealing with the sundry issues of middle-age. This element is interspersed throughout the book and comes off as a self-help book for those trying to get on track. He talks about health issues, of course, but he also deals with that sense of emptiness that many middle-aged people encounter. He shares his experiences and gives advice based on those experiences. He takes time to address the issue of a life that has flow by in the wake of education, profession, and children. He looks at what scripture says to those people asking “Is this all? Isn’t there something more?” This element is encouraging not only because of the scriptural support but because Bruce presents it in a way that sounds like a friend showing you his own vulnerabilities, not an expert offering clinical advice.
The last element of this book was my favorite. Prior to each narrative section and intertwined with spiritual advice about mid-life is some of the most straight-forward yet challenging apologetics I have heard since C.S. Lewis. Bruce talks about the strengths and weaknesses of various theological arguments such as a-posterori, teleological, and cosmological. He gives hard, clear statistical proof of the claims he sets forth in all his arguments. He examines several of the major works of “a theists” and shows the tricks they use as well as the flaws in their arguments. His hard-hitting trial lawyer style sets his opponents back on their heels and leaves his Christian audience smiling at his successes. He explains many of the premises of intelligent design, including the anthropic principle and irreducible complexity in way that, while understandable, will challenge and expand the reader’s current understanding of theology and hermeneutics.
He does all of this, and more, with a sense of wit, purpose, and passion that will carry the reader through the book. Bruce has more than written a book. He has offered us a chance to journey with him, and at the end of this journey we can find both hope and better understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this book is something for everyone regardless of age, gender, or confidence in Christ and therefore should be read by everyone. However, if you are in a place where you are struggling; if you are asking what is next, pick up this book, find a comfortable spot, and start a journey that will change your life and perceptions deeply and forever.
Trent Nicholson, Ph.D., D.Min.
Desert Bible Institute, President
Dr. Nicholson is a member of the christianaudio review program. To learn more, visit their website at: www.christianaudio.com.