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Come Back, Barbara by C. John Miller & Barbara Miller Juliani
It’s an old one, but boy does it pack a redemptive, humble, preaching-the-gospel punch. From the introduction, you have a sense of what is coming: “There is more to love than we think. The implications of our Lord dying for us “while we were yet sinners” are staggering. Perhaps the great need of the church today is to face how badly we love and then to enter more fully into the costly grace of our forgiving Lord. Only then will we know the freedom to love others well, even when they grieve us deeply.”
Come Back Barbara is essentially told by C. John (Jack) Miller with his daughter Barbara Miller Juliani responding to each chapter with her account of events and her view of them. Says Lawrence Crabb, “We all know that we should love our kids through thick and thin: love endures all things; don’t give up; reject the sin but not the sinner. But parents who are contending with a rebellious child, particularly an older one in the late teens or early twenties, too often replace acceptance of the child and a legitimate burden for his or her well being with a pressuring insistence that the child conform so that parental pain is relieved.”
The story of Barbara's determination to make life work without God and the effect it has on her parents is a tale of what it means to love someone who is breaking your heart.”
Miller admits with an earnest humbleness that “the purpose is to show how a father and a daughter with conflicting values came to have a wonderful reconciliation through Christ’s working changes in both of us. Bringing up children is simpler than you or I ever thought. The master principle is simply this: Confront the conscience and don’t be impressed by outward conformity. I ultimately realized He was seeking the rebellious daughter through the rebellious father.”
Barbara says it this way: “There is nothing out of the ordinary in the bad judgment I showed in ordering my life. What makes this story stand out is that God used my parents to spur me and teach me about His love. Through their love, the Hound of Heaven was able to find me. And that makes this story worth telling.”
Did you feel the punch? Wow. This is a book for every believing Christian in any season of life. If you are new parent and you receive this book as present for your swaddling bundle of joy, don’t return it, because the truth is, we are ALL three seconds from wayward. That said, every parent, grandparent, teaching elder, ruling elder, deacon, pastor, first time parent, parent of toddlers, tween, college students and everything in between, should read this book. It would also not be lost on anyone who reads this that the themes of pursuit, redemption and forgiveness in grief don’t just stay within the bounds of parenting… we would be wise to learn to love the Church this way as well.
— reviewed by Trina Crosby