The life you never expected – Review


The life you never expected – Thriving while parenting special needs children –  Andrew and Rachel Wilson – IVP (UK) and Crossway (US)


Claire and I have both read Andrew and Rachel Wilson’s book on ‘The life you never expected’. The book tells something of the Wilson’s story with 2 children who have regressive autism and how they as a family have coped with this.


There were many things to appreciate about the book, there is searing honesty which was refreshing to read. I found Andrew’s chapters on Lament in Psalm 130 very moving and helpful. The chapters are short and pithy.


However I probably wouldn’t recommend the book and I’ve tried hard to think why I wouldn’t. It’s certainly not a bad book Carl Trueman and Russell Moore give it high commendations.  My problem with the book is that it tried too hard, there was lots of trying to write witty sentences and be funny. The result of that is the book lacks gravitas. This may be hugely subjective but at times although the content was good the weight of  the  truth was lost because of the way the writers were trying to express it. As I read the book I thought to myself you are overcommunicating if there’s such a thing.


Andrew Wilson is one of the leaders in the New Frontiers movement and that does come out, obviously he is writing from a charismatic and baptistic position. Covenant Theology is entirely absent and so there is from a Reformed standpoint a very inadequate answer to ‘How do you think about salvation, eternity and so on when it comes to Zeke and Anna?’ That God makes a covenant promises to our Children to be their God was absent and yet that  has been the greatest source of comfort since our Phoebe was born and in looking to the future.


He also addresses healing and again I just felt very uncomfortable in the simplistic way it was handled. The Wilson’s would hold to miracles and testify to healings they’ve experienced and seen. They write “So we pray for healing. We believe God can heal our Children. And we trust him when he doesn’t, knowing that one day he will.” We’ve had people come to us and say that they were praying Phoebe would be healed from Down Syndrome, thankfully they spoke to me and not my wife. I think I laughed and gave them a big hug. Obviously the Wilson’s and I live on different planets when it comes to the continuation of the gifts.


Every situation is unique, our Phoebe has Down Syndrome and that has it’s different ups and downs to what the Wilsons have gone through. I appreciated their wanting to write something for parents like us. I just wonder whether a more rigorous covenantal approach would have been better. However as I read it I prayed for them as a family, it is a testimony to the grace of God in how they’ve coped and they write in a way that doesn’t make them the heroes of the story.

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