Autobiography is an underappreciated genre. At least, by me. I haven’t recognized its strengths. Of course, the many details of a person’s life down on paper may become tedious to read. But I have just read one and grasp how getting the grand sweep of a person’s life, recounted by the principal actor from early childhood to old age, can demonstrate the slow but steady move of the Holy Spirit on those that God will simply not let go of.
I refer to the book, Prodigal (2022), by Wynn Cameron Thompson, the founder of Restoring Wholeness Ministries (written with the help of Lori Conser). Yes, it is a tome, some 350 pages, but it does not drag. He starts at six years old and takes us up to age seventy-six. We get to know Wynn from the events that shaped him, from his horrendous rape as a little boy, to the sometimes understandable and sometimes ridiculous choices he made in response, to the incredibly loyal family and friends repeatedly giving him opportunities which he squanders, to the faithful girl whose heart he breaks, to the innocent victims to his own predation, to the movement of Christ in his heart, to the eventual successes and setbacks of his ministry for God.
We can get a similar sense of sweep from a biography or biopic (movie biography), but autobiography allows us some of the thoughts and perspectives of the character as he makes various decisions. Especially in a work powered by Christian honesty, we thus gain entrance to the motivation of his tragic sins and noble advances. And we can witness the action of the Spirit in his insides.
What we end up with in Prodigal is a beautifully candid, paradigmatic story of how same-sex attraction can take over a life and how God frees a man from its addiction. As in Wynn, the process is sometimes painfully slow, with sad setbacks that one feels could have been avoided if one was less arrogant or less foolish or more realistic about one’s heart, but perhaps are needed after all to bring one all the way back to the throne of grace.
The grand sweep of a life also demonstrates God’s sometimes extraordinary mercies. When Wynn reconnects with the girlfriend he loved and crushed thirty five years before, he in his fifties, she now a widow, and they marry, there cannot be a dry eye in the house.
In the end, after reading such a book we realize that this really is how lives change, not just for the sexually broken, but for all of us in our own brokenness one way or another. A real life story like this shows us that in those in Christ He eventually wins, and the best we can do is bow before our Maker and re-Maker and let Him work.