Book Review: Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller



Through Painted Deserts, by Donald Miller

“Life is a dance toward God, I begin to think. And the dance is not so graceful as we might want. While we glide and swing our practiced sway, God crowds our feet, bumps our toes, and scuffs our shoes. So we learn to dance with the One who made us. And it is a difficult dance to learn, because its steps are foreign… And I think to myself, there is nothing I am missing. I have everything I was supposed to have to experience the magnitude of this story, to dance with God.”

~Donald Miller – Through Painted Deserts

This quote is from a book I finished last night entitled Through Painted Deserts, by author Donald Miller. It is an image of God I have been relating to for many years, and have only recently seen put into words so eloquently.

Unlike his other books, Blue Like Jazz and Searching for God Knows What, this book is based solely on Donald Miller’s personal journey from Texas to Portland. It is a story about two men taking a roadtrip through the western states, and the sometimes hilarious and poignant moments of life and faith that occur along the way. While not as theologically-based as his other books, it still contains his meandering thoughts on God and ultimately discusses the neverending why questions we sometimes face. Published originally before his other texts, it has been rewritten, likely more for the satisfaction of the author than for anyone else.

This is not a book I would recommend reading if you are itching to make your own personal journey of self-discovery in a new place. I started to read it at a time of serious personal questioning, and had to put it down because I was restless, couldn’t leave and was jealous of the journey the author was undertaking. Soon enough I was able to go on a sorely needed vacation and the book became immensely enjoyable, reflecting experiences I myself could finally relate to.

All in all its an incredibly enjoyable read, but perhaps only if you are in the right frame of mind. This is a story about men on a pilgrimage, and while it discusses God in unanswerable, open-ended questions, it never set out to be solely about him. But if you enjoy self-discovery, and reading about someone else’s in a way that opens yourself up to epiphanies than this is a great read.


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