What is God Like? – Rachel Held Evans & Matthew Paul Turner

What Is God Like? by Rachel Held Evans, Matthew Paul Turner, Daniel Jonce Evans, Ying Hui Tan
Also by this author: Wholehearted Faith
Published by Convergent Books on June 15, 2021
Genres: Children's
Buy on Amazon

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - The late, beloved Rachel Held Evans answers many children's first question about God in this gorgeous picture book, fully realized by her friend Matthew Paul Turner, the bestselling author of When God Made You.
Children who are introduced to God, through attending church or having loved ones who speak about God, often have a lot of questions, including this ever-popular one: What is God like? The late Rachel Held Evans loved the Bible and loved showing God's love through the words and pictures found in that ancient text. Through these pictures from the Bible, children see that God is like a shepherd, God is like a star, God is like a gardener, God is like the wind, and more. God is a comforter and support.
And whenever a child is unsure, What Is God Like? encourages young hearts to "think about what makes you feel safe, what makes you feel loved, and what makes you feel brave. That's what God is like."

There are not enough good things to say about Rachel Held Evans. She was best known for how she authentically shared her story in a way that encouraged others to take the same journey toward a faith more mysterious, more inclusive, more loving, and more free than her conservative, evangelical upbringing. She spoke honestly about her struggles with church, with her doubts, with her changing beliefs. And through it all, she shared about her fierce love for Jesus and her desire to know God ever better amid the chaos of doubt and uncertainty.

The God of her past—or rather, the way God had been portrayed—was one of judgment, wrath, and anger. It was a God of strict demands. A God who claimed to be loving, but whose people seemed to prefer a model of love as “telling the hard truths.” Rachel Held Evans knew that many young people were falling away from the faith because they had a false picture of who God is. While her books for adults were one way of addressing that, What is God Like? takes that message to children in a beautiful and easily understandable fashion.

Rachel began to draft this book in March of 2019. Two months later she unexpectedly passed away, leaving the book unfinished. The family placed the book into the hands of Matthew Paul Turner, a close friend of Rachel’s who was a veteran children’s book author. Matthew massaged the book into its finished product while retaining Rachel’s voice and vision.

I love that What is God Like? starts with the understanding of how enormous that question is and how God is too big to be fully comprehend. Using analogies within Creation, Rachel Held Evans describes the character of God. God is like a shepherd who loves her sheep and protects them. Like the stars, forever present and bright. Like a river, constant and life giving. The goal of the book isn’t to be too literal (stars, technically, aren’t forever present after all), but to allow for artistic expression, letting the reader imagine God through the lens of creation. Nor is there a strictly defined answer of “this is exactly who God is and nothing else.” Evans allows for the mystery of God, teaching young ones that we cannot make him fit into our boxes.

Ying Hui Tan’s amazing illustrations showcase a diverse cast of characters. We see children of all sizes and ethnicities. There are children in wheelchairs, children with blond hair, children with dark skin, and everything in between. You can tell that the publishing team was careful to want anyone to be able to find themselves represented in the book, all of us on the journey of discovering the mystery of God.

Like everything Rachel Held Evans has written, it absolutely exudes her personality, her conscientiousness, and her commitment to glorify God. The addition of Matthew Paul Turner just takes a good thing and makes it even better. Seriously, check out his other children’s books. What is God Like? is a beautiful testament to Rachel’s life and work.