Abby Ross Hutto wants us to know that God can reach every single one of us. Using an innovative allegorical approach, Hutto turns the true stories of men and women she knows into characters named after the characteristic that describes them: Distant, Skeptic, Wanderer, Betrayed, Wounded, to name a few. Hutto introduces each chapter of her new book God For Us by telling a specific and true story of why someone she knows felt far removed from God then she shows how Jesus himself ministered specifically to someone in a similar situation during his time on Earth. At the heart of each chapter is Jesus healing the hurting, welcoming the ashamed, freeing the captives. God is FOR all of these people and he is FOR all of us, too.
It is clear that Hutto writes from rich years of experience in direct ministry. In each story she tells, it is clear that she has earned the privilege of trust through years of prayerful encouragement and gospel-centered fellowship with these people. She doesn’t speak merely from her own life’s journey but adorns the gospel of grace with thirteen profound testimonies of God’s redeeming power.
As an example of Hutto’s wisdom, consider how she frames the story of a young man who went from being abused to being an abuser in the chapter “A God for the Lost.” As Hutto describes, when Lost’s father caught him looking at pornography (“broken expressions of his desires”) as a young man, his father “simply cautioned him not to get caught. He didn’t teach Lost how to fight; he taught him how to hide.” In just a few paragraphs, Hutto captures the essence of what is at stake in the unseen spiritual realm for this man. Each chapter concludes with resounding hope. In “A God for the Ashamed,” Hutto shares how her friend whose story she has told is now “a mama bear in God’s house. She puts herself in between the lies of Satan and God’s beloved children, and she stands her ground. She rebukes the voice of shame with the voice of God’s word.” What a joyful description of a woman redeemed! I teared up many times with the joy of seeing sin’s power broken in the lives of the men and women whose stories she tells.
These stories provide a moving framework that draws us into God’s word. Hutto recognizes how encounters with Jesus recorded in the book of John demonstrate that God is truly for all of us. I was stirred by her description of Jesus healing Lazarus in “A God for the Grieving.” She says, “Jesus was declaring war. He was fighting back darkness and death. With each person he healed, he reclaimed ground that sin and death had stolen from his children.” Hutto unpacks the scriptures with great care and enthusiasm. Her love for God is palpable as she engages with the scriptures.
I was moved by the stories in this book. I saw the lost and hurting with greater compassion. I saw Jesus with greater admiration. I saw the power of the gospel at work. I recommend God For Us with enthusiasm as an encouraging book for personal encouragement or group study.