Book Review: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

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We all love stories.  Whether we’re watching them on a screen, reading them in a book, listening to them around a campfire or whispering them to our children before bed, there’s something universally enchanting about being told a good story.

Of course, few of us really put a lot of thought into what exactly makes them “good.”  We just know when they are.  However, in his new book, Donald Miller does just that.  He boils the essence of a story down to this: a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.

And this makes complete sense.  Whenever we think of our favorite stories, we inevitably think of our favorite characters and the journey on which they embark and we get to join them.

Luke Skywalker.

Elizabeth Bennet.

Bruce Wayne.

Scarlett O’Hara.

Frodo Baggins.

The Oceanic Six.

Jesus.

But few, if any, of us would ever consider how we as a character fit into and affect the ongoing story of our lives.  Don (hopefully he won’t mind if I call him “Don”), however, did when two filmmakers approached him about turning His best-selling memoir Blue Like Jazz into a movie.  In actually crafting the story of his fictionalized self, he was forced to examine his own life, what he wanted and what he was willing to overcome to get it.

Reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, I found myself doing the exact same thing with regards to my own life.  I’ve passed it on to various friends, and they’ve done the same thing.

You see, there seems to be this generation of us who have done everything we’re supposed to.  We’ve studied hard and gotten good educations, landed solid jobs, began investing in our futures, started families of our own, and tried to care for the least of these and leave the world a better place than when we found it.  But underneath it all, there’s still been this current of unease, as if there’s something more or at least could be.

Through his writing in A Million Miles, Don helps any of us for whom that rings true by allowing us to peer into his own story, and see if from what he learned we might discover something about our own and how all of our stories play a part in the greater Story.

It isn't about mere positive thinking.  It isn't a selfish, self-centered self-help void of God.  It isn't about achieving the American dream.  It isn't a postliberal narrative theology.  And it isn't about navel-gazing or stopping to smell the roses.

This book is about living and living with meaning, not for a couple of hours in a theater or curled up on your sofa on a rainy Saturday afternoon not just for a season, but for a lifetime.

What do you want?

What's standing in your way?

How are you going to get it?