Andrea Palpant Dilley spent six years of her childhood in Kenya, where her father was a medical missionary. Her family lived among the people they served, among who were refugees from Idi Amin’s reign of terror in Uganda. A refugee from Uganda who worked with her father led Andrea to faith in Jesus Christ.
Andrea’s family did not live in some missionary compound sheltered from the harsh reality of life outside. Her parents made the decision to raise Andrea and her brothers at their side, as they worked to ease the suffering of the people of Lugulu, Kenya. Andrea learned the meaning of giving a cup of cold water in Jesus Christ’s name from observing her parents and those who worked with them in the hospital. She learned what it meant to give and receive love. Likewise, she learned to share the grief and sorrow of those around her, as well as her own.
Back in the United States as a thirteen year old seventh grader, Andrea began to question what it meant to be a Christian. It was an awakening to the need for a reasoned and confident faith. Like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and like thinking Christians throughout history, Andrea set out on the pilgrim’s journey to a faith based upon a reasoned understanding of her faith, not on emotion or a blind, mindless acceptance of some creed or systematic theology.
After graduating from high school, Andrea enrolled at Whitworth College, a private Christian liberal arts college located in Spokane, Washington. Whitworth promotes itself as a college with a healthy tension between Christian commitment and intellectual curiosity. Put another way, their goal is to help students to think, not tell them what to think.
As a symbolic gesture of her decision to explore the mysteries and uncertainties of the pilgrim’s journey, Andrea chipped the Ichthus sticker off her car. It was a way of turning away from a simplistic “pop” faith and the plastic culture that came with it.
In her book, FAITH AND OTHER FLAT TIRES, A MEMOIR: SEARCHING FOR GOD ON THE ROUGH ROAD OF DOUBT (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), Andrea Palpant Dilley uses John Bunyan’s story of THE PILGRIM’S PROGRESS as the model for her own journey of faith, a journey which she acknowledges is a lifelong pilgrimage.
FAITH AND OTHER FLAT TIRES is her first book, but I hope not her last. I enjoyed this book for its realism. Her journey is mine, also. The decision to follow Jesus Christ is only the beginning. There is far more mystery in Christianity than any of us can begin to understand. Our risen Lord invites us to stop at the inn, to share a meal with Him, and listen as He explains the great parable, the greatest story ever told, or as C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien put it, the “true myth.”
I choose to end my review with a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke from his book of poetry titled, THE BOOK OF PILGRIMAGE, as quoted by Ms. Dilley:
Whom should I turn to,
If not the one whose darkness
Is darker than the night, the only one
Who keeps vigil with no candle,
And is not afraid—
The deep one, whose being I trust.