Wendy Widder is an OT scholar, professor, author, and editor. She wears several hats, but in her new book she takes them all off and writes transparently as a follower of Jesus about pursuing your calling in a broken world. The book’s subtitle tells it all—this is “a memoir about calling.” And a detailed memoir it is. Wendy has amazing recall of the little things many of us would call trivia, but she weaves all these threads together to teach us that God is good and faithful.
You should know I’m not coming at this book impartially, from a distance. Wendy was my student in seminary, and later she was my colleague for an all-too-brief season. We taught Hermeneutics together a couple times, and I still remember how much I learned from her lecture “How to Read a Psalm.” I’m really glad that after all of this she’s still my friend, and that she’s still teaching me.
• • • • • • •
Join Wendy and me as we talk candidly about her book here.
• • • • • • •
Wendy Widder is a seasoned author. She has written a PhD dissertation that was published in a prestigious academic series. She has written various essays for scholars. She’s written commentaries for pastors and Bible teachers, as well as books for singles and church ministry to singles. Why did she add this memoir to her catalog?
Wendy wants to tell the story of how God pursued her as she pursued her calling through a series of heartbreaking disappointments. One of Wendy’s commentaries on Daniel is in Zondervan’s Story of God series, and in this memoir she relates how the story of God has unfolded in her life. This isn’t so much a memoir about Wendy as it is a series of remembrances of God’s providence during good days and bad, the sort of thing all of us should be able to write even if we’re not as good at it as Wendy is.
What does the road map look like? It begins with a middle-class child growing up in midwest USA suburbia. She excels in school, goes to college, and becomes a bored elementary school teacher and later an ineffective church secretary. These failures show her what she really wants to do—go to seminary to learn how to study and teach the Bible well. That’s when the story really gets interesting, and the bittersweet memoir about calling begins.
Wendy faces several apparent dead-ends as she struggles to be faithful to her vocation. As we’ve discussed here lately, seminaries aren’t exactly thriving these days. It’s a lot harder to land one of the scarce jobs that are open when you’re a woman, especially when people at Christian seminaries don’t act like Christians. I’ll leave it at that. Join my conversation with Wendy if you need more details.
I hope you will read Every Road Goes Somewhere and reflect on what it says about pursuing your calling even when other believers aren’t helping you do so. Christian women are perhaps its natural audience, but this book isn’t just for half the church. This is a book for men as well as women, for complementarians as well as egalitarians, and for pastors as well as seminary deans and professors. Christian men especially need to get a clue, but this book is for everyone who needs to understand and move forward from the gender impasse in the church and Christian academy.
Wendy’s story prods all of us—whatever our view of gender roles—to pursue our calling faithfully, just like Jesus did, all the way to the cross. He loved and gave himself for the whole church, not just the half that tends to run the show. At this time of the Christian year our hearts are drawn more that ever to the cross. Jesus didn’t back down from his calling, and, supported by the Word, the Spirit, and our Christian communities, neither will we!
• • • • • • •
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. (Hebrews 12:1-4 NLT)
If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The tests in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the tests to be more than you can stand. When you are tested, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13, adapted from the NLT)
• • • • • • •