To discover a friend who loves words and metaphor as much as I do is always a gift. To read entire books written by that friend is a delight. And to have that friend also be my pastor… Well, it’s probably not a coincidence.

Reading Steve Wiens’ newest book, Whole—which releases today—felt like a glimpse into the conversation that goes on weekly at our little church.

It’s a conversation that’s been stirring in my soul for quite a few years now, ever since the God I thought I knew broke out of the shell I’d created and proved to be much bigger and more complex—and, as a result, more beautiful—than I had previously believed.

So much of that has everything to do with words.

How they are used. How they are held. How they are honored and allowed to breathe. How they show up in questions at least as often as answers, if not more.

Steve brings some of the best things about words to his new book.

  • He’s never careless with them, but he’s also not overly precious. He’s smart, funny, and honest. And real.
  • He breaks out of his own voice at times to add color and humanness to some very familiar scenes from the scriptures, gorgeously bringing them to life in a way you’ve never seen before. (Guaranteed.)
  • He provides ample helpings of metaphors—some of his own creation, some with ancient roots. All of them hold an invitation to find yourself within the story. The barn swallows are my favorite.
  • He understands that certain words deserve more weight, and space, and context than others. And he takes the time to provide it. Especially certain Hebrew words from the original Jewish scriptures.

As Steve puts it: “The Hebrew language uses a rigid economy of words to convey a kaleidoscope of meaning and destiny, transcending time, looping backward and forward, sewing us all together in a fabric of shared story.”

Yes. That.

Those are the kinds of words that have burrowed deep into my soul and transformed things for me. I’ve been lucky this past year to study with a Jewish rabbi several times, and never have I left those studies the same.

One thing I appreciate about studying Hebrew words in scripture is how alive they are. They are never just one thing. They are not simple. They are not easily summed up or flippantly defined.

They are part of a larger, ongoing story. A story that has room for me, because I am not easily summed up either.

Steve’s book is true to this theme. It’s not just one thing. Yes, it’s a book on restoring what is broken. But there’s not exactly a five-step process for achieving this. There can’t be, because the process is too rich, and deep, and ongoing.

But, as Steve illustrates, it’s a tender, powerful process, filled with the actual hope of wholeness.

I mean, Steve must believe there’s hope, right? Or he wouldn’t have given his book such an audacious subtitle: Restoring What is Broken in Me, You, and the Entire World.

That’s a tall order.

My doubting, skeptical heart balks at it.

But that’s why I choose to have a pastor like Steve. Someone who, when necessary, can believe on my behalf and invite me to join him on the path he’s walking himself.

That, and because of words like these, from Whole: “There are things that need to change in me; they just won’t be changed by feeling bad about myself or trying really hard to fix them. That isn’t how wholeness works. The journey of wholeness is not a self-improvement project. It’s a journey of loss, trust, transformation, and eventually hope.”

Here’s to the journey, friends. May words like these help us find our way.