A young boy and his tender-hearted uncle. A bride who betrays her young husband just as he ships off to war. A toddler lost in a vast and dangerous mountainside. A family raised out of poverty and alcoholism. An entrepreneur’s spirit and a grace-filled heart.
With: A True Story weaves together family tales of devastation, lifelong hardship and an unbridled passion for true love, redemption and a life of hope and joy.
Drawing on the storytelling skill that propelled his earlier books The Serving Leader and Ten Thousand Horses to bestseller status, Stahl-Wert brings us his most intimate tales yet. Following the true story-line of his mother’s family, With: A True Story interweaves tales of poverty, entrepreneurship, betrayal and courage with six carefully crafted reflections about God’s relationships within God’s own being, with His human creatures, and through His human children to the whole of His creation. By stitching the unvarnished human tales of his own family together with his reflections about God’s relationship with humankind, Stahl-Wert is able to take up the deepest and most challenging theological questions: Why does God allow suffering? What good purpose could sin and evil play in God’s work? For what reason does God give humankind the freedom to make its horrific mistakes? For what purpose are humans created?
Chapter One begins with Stahl-Wert, then a six-year-old boy, placed in the temporary care of his Uncle Samuel, and tells of a casual question his uncle asks him that changes the course of his life. Chapter Two recounts the early love life of Stahl-Wert’s grandparents and the eleven children born of the overflow of this poor couple’s love. Chapter Three tells the story of a toddler hopelessly lost in the vastness of Pennsylvania’s Shade Mountain and reflects on God’s decision to allow His human creatures to become perfectly lost. Chapter Four recounts the alcoholism that ravaged this family and explores the choices humans make to either remain (both pleasurably and painfully) awake and alive or to become numb, asleep and oblivious to what life requires. Chapter Five takes up the question of what humans are for, how we grow up and wake up to purpose and vocation, and the big destiny that God prepares for us. Chapter Six completes the tales, putting Stahl-Wert back into the same room with his Uncle where the story started, this time with his uncle Samuel close to death and Stahl-Wert able to return the great favor his uncle gave him forty years earlier.
Praise for With: A True Story
Eugene Peterson calls With: A True Story “as good as it gets!”
P. Douglas Wilson says, “I have never read better!”
Jay Bennett calls With “a work of art.”
Stewart Levine says, “Just beautiful!”
With: A True Story is a work of narrative theology. The stories and tales within this work are all true. The storytelling is masterful. The theology is orthodox Christian. The questions it asks are ageless and deeply challenging. The tone of this book is deeply graceful and loving.