Leaving Egypt: Finding God in the Wilderness Places

Wow. What a great read! I am sure this is my favorite book I have read this year and I’m all but positive it will rank in my Top Ten List when I reach the end of my reading year. It is that good.

I was not familiar with the author, Chuck DeGroat, but I am very familiar with the Exodus Narrative throughout Scripture. I have studied the parallels of this narrative as it pertains to individual and corporate spiritual formation and was curious to explore another presentation. I am always interested to read, study, and converse over elements of the Biblical narrative, particularly the primacy of the Exodus narrative, which occurs over and over again throughout the God-man story… and specifically the God-me story.

Not being familiar with Chuck DeGroat, I was somewhat skeptical and uncommitted to the book for the first few chapters. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of great references made in the early chapters from other theologians, writers, recognized resources from the field of spiritual formation and direction (C.S. Lewis, Gerald May, Henri Nouwen, G.K. Chesterton, Thomas Merton, Teresa Avila, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Brennan Manning, Dan Allender, and Walter Brueggemann… these were just a few of the names I knew and was familiar with). By the time I reached chapter seven, I was fully entrenched in the story, The Exodus Narrative, and completely sold on the fact that Dr. DeGroat was an expert in his subject…and well worth listening to.

The book is broken into four main sections; Egypt (oppression/bondage), Sinai (self-discovery/new identity), Wilderness (purgation/transformation), and Home (deliverance/mission/promise). Chuck moves through these four major acts with the care of a pastor-shepherd, the analytical prowess of an academic-theologian, the discerning ear of a spiritual guide, and the clinical eye and mind of a physician. In addition to the experience he brings from his in-the-trenches work, he also shares personal stories as well as real-life experiences from some of the clients he has represented. These personal interactions are helpful to interweave the millennia-old story of the Exodus into the personal DNA of every person who reads this book. This is where the “magic” occurs. The Exodus story is our story and when we are able to catch sight of this truth, it is when God, our Exodus Guide and Provider, does the work that each of us require as we are prepared for inhabiting the Land of Promise.

This story deals with almost every detail of formation in the life of a believer-follower of Christ. In it you will learn about fear and trust, dependence and humility, inner healing and deliverance from the false selves we create for ourselves…and so much more. This book is a real treasure and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is not a beginner book and I would not push it as a “read it now” book for a new believer, but it should definitely be on their must read list of Christian Living books.