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We desire to be transformed, to grow more and more like Christ. But for many of us, our strategies for change don’t work. We misperceive God as a judgmental Father, leaving us demoralized and paralyzed by shame. Stumbling toward Wholeness offers a new strategy for spiritual growth and life transformation: regularly returning to the arms of a kind and loving Father.

There are many books that explore the parable of the Prodigal Son, but few approach it with the personal vulnerability and psychological insight of Andrew Bauman. Andrew shows how taking the time to identify with each of the brothers in this story can help us come to terms with our own brokenness and the need for God revealed in it. We discover a process of change that applies to each of us and a healing journey that moves us toward the likeness of the Father in how we love the people around us and address the pain others have caused us.

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Ever since I read Stumbling toward Wholeness by Andrew Bauman, I want to give a copy to everyone. Whether you are stumbling or marching, heading in many directions at once or confidently toward one, or looking for wholeness or who knows what—this book is for you. As you read it, you will realize you both stumble and march, you know what you long for, and you live with an inexplicable ache; and somehow, somewhere along this path, faith finds you. Do you have the audacity to consider the possibility of wholeness in this fractured world? Answer yes. Pick up this book. You are on the path to a radically new way of life.

What a bold, brave, and thoughtful reflection on the prodigal-son story. Andrew Bauman invites us into the drama and equips us to identify the feelings of shame, betrayal, contempt, and grief that we all wrestle with as we stumble toward wholeness. I came away encouraged by the boundless love of the Father for us all.

A few years ago, a friend of mine said, “We are at a time in the life of the church where stories of failure are much more important than stories of success.” I couldn’t agree more. And while that may sound counterintuitive, it shouldn’t surprise us. In fact, what should surprise us is that our fascination with success stories has gained so much ground inside the church. After all, the Bible makes it clear that it is in our weakness that we discover God’s strength; it is in our guilt that we discover God’s grace; it is in our shame that we discover God’s salvation; it is in our rebellion that we discover God’s rescue; it is in our slavery that we discover God’s freedom; it is in our failure that we discover God’s faithfulness. This is one of the many reasons I deeply appreciate Andrew Bauman’s book: It’s real and it’s raw. It’s uncomfortably honest and therefore unfathomably hopeful. We need more books like this—books that acknowledge brokenness and need—for it is only then that we will see and appreciate the one-way love of God that comes our way minus our merit. Thank you, Andrew, for reminding me that “it is finished.” I keep forgetting.

This book takes a brave look at the story of the prodigal son and invites the reader to find true freedom in the loving arms of the Father. It calls us to embrace the resurrection that is found on the other side of repentance.

Stumbling toward Wholeness is exactly what the title implies: It’s Andrew Bauman’s life, in process, shared beautifully and vulnerably with us as a gift. Yet, like any good story, it tells a larger story, imagined through the ancient biblical tale of a father and his two sons. It’s his story and their story, but somehow it’s also our story. And this is the beauty of Andrew’s work. You’ll be invited into the tears and laughter of a prodigious Lover who sees you, pursues you, and embraces you.

Today I add Andrew Bauman’s name to Luke, Nouwen, and Rembrandt as my beloved guides through the magical prodigal story from Jesus. Illumination is an ancient sacred practice. Stumbling toward Wholeness helped me anew to carry my grief, my shame, my confession, and my mourning, nudging me with its honesty and wisdom toward healing, joy, and hope.