Yawning at Tigers: A Book Review

I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for at least a year, since Drew Dyck first told me he was writing it. Drew is a coworker and a friend, and I’m a fan of his writing. He has a masters degree in Theology, and he is a “belief buff,” a fan of both ancient wisdom and contemporary thought. So I was eager to see how he would bring the two together in this book.

This could have been a dense book, a deep dive into theology by a gleeful swimmer who is at home in that pool. It could have left many readers behind. Instead, it’s a very accessible work that can inspire anyone to a powerful perspective and deeper faith.

The book

Yawning at Tigers: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying by Drew Dyck
(Published by Nelson Books, 2014)

What this book offers

Yawning at Tigers presents the juxtaposed and intertwined relationship between God’s transcendence (he is far above us and completely independent of all things) and his immanence (he is close beside us and desires relationship with us). In the process, he emphasizes God’s holiness and power along with his love, and the contrast and coexistence of these qualities makes each one more compelling than it would be when examined alone.

Dyck spends a lot of time on the concept of transcendence and its attendant qualities, like holiness and power. He compares God to a mighty lion or tiger, wild and unpredictable and dangerous and definitely not tame. He accuses us, culturally, of trying to domesticate God and points to the futility of this exercise: “When we approach God casually, as if he were some sort of cosmic buddy, we…demonstrate a dangerous misunderstanding about his nature” (p. 10).

In the process, he calls us to a deeper life: “We’re bored to death of living but scared to death to really live. What if what’s really missing are the deep things of God?” (p. 21). Faith in a God we can understand and live with comfortably is a faith that will fail in the face of both suffering and prosperity. So he pulls us toward a life fueled by knowledge that God is neither understandable nor a fully comfortable companion.

But Dyck doesn’t forget about God’s love. In fact, he shows us several facets to that love that make it look positively tiger-ish as well. He shows us a fierce love that takes incredible risks on our behalf and is not satisfied with the emptiness of peaceful coexistence. “God comes after us tenaciously,” he writes, “almost recklessly. No obstacle is to great, no cost too high” (p. 110). Such determined love means far more in the context of God’s tremendous superiority to us.

What I liked about this book

My favorite thing about this book is captured in the title of Chapter 3: “The God Worth Worshipping.” An understanding of God’s transcendence and his immanence should inspire us to worship. A God like us, no matter how good, wouldn’t deserve more than the affection and admiration we grant to the best of our fellow humans. A God far above us, essentially different and much more than we are, who does not love us and isn’t good, may deserve and command our allegiance and awe but probably would not inspire true worship. This book reminds us that God, who is separate and greater but lives among us in love, deserves more worship than we can possibly give.

I also love the stories in this book. It contains accounts of people living dangerously and lovingly, inspired by their worship of an untamed God. In a sense, these stories are the heart of the book–showing what our untamable and winsome God inspires people to do in his name, as an expression of his great love.
Yawning at Tigers
What I would change about this book

In my view, Dyck went a little overboard in making the concepts in this book accessible. I would have loved to read a little more theology in proportion to the anecdotes and illustrations. And because I really appreciate the author’s voice, I wish the book pulled a little less from other writers and thinkers–or perhaps simply included more of his own perspective. When going deeper into a concept, he sometimes relied on the work of others at times when I wanted him to stay in the drivers seat. Because it was good, I wanted more.

Who should read it

This is a great book for anyone who wants a challenge to popular theology and a bigger picture of God as he has revealed himself through the Bible. Even though the theology is deep, it really is tremendously accessible and beneficial for any reader. In an age when God’s chief purpose is widely, and increasingly, seen as making humans comfortable and happy, this book is a much-needed challenge. I hope it will inspire awestruck trust among the yawning.

  1. Simone Booth says:

    Thanks for a great review! I have more time to read in the summer and am always looking for books that are worth the investment of time. Other books that have made it on to my summer reading list include: When the Church was a Family by Joseph Hellerman and Changes that Heal by Dr. Henry Cloud.

  2. Kate says:

    Thank you Amy, for this review. I like the sound of this book so much that I ordered it on amazon!

  3. waynedeibel says:

    Thanks for the review. I am going to order it. There is a great scene in the Prince of Egypt which shows both God’s immanence and transcendence. Moses at the burning bush. God tells Moses to take off his sandels because he’s standing on holy ground. (Val Kilmer’s voice is booming and commanding) Then as the scene unfolds and Moses expresses his fear of going — God says, “But Moses, I AM going with you.” (This time the voice sounds like a Father reassurance / God’s immanence . Watch and see what you think. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5BQWubuC8g&feature=kp

© 2014 Amy Simpson.