We all have an “inner escape artist.” When life gets too hard, too overwhelming, or simply too boring, we look for a way out. These ways of escape range from the destructive to the mundane, but they are all unhealthy. In his new book I Want to Escape, pastor and Biblical Counselor Rush Witt helps us move from escapism to “confident dependence” upon God. The transition he recommends is a refreshing take on escapism that grounds our hope in the Lord.
This particular volume is part a new series from New Growth Press. The “Ask the Counselor” series invites experienced counselors to tackle hard subjects in bite size formats. These aren’t mini-books but they aren’t full length treatments of a topics. Rather, they are short, focused resources aimed at giving readers some basic orientation on a major problem and some practical steps to take. In that regard you may feel like there are times where more depth and detail are wanted, but overall this is a series that is accessible and helpful for crises.
Escapism, as Witt lays out, looks different from what you might think. The obvious examples are certainly addressed in this book: substance abuse, video games, excessive entertainment. But Witt also highlights examples that we don’t think of as escape routes: anger and blame shifting, busyness, self-harm, and even suicide. The “inner escape artist” in us is creative at avoiding and combating negative emotions and overwhelming realities. The book’s eight chapters seek to lay out both the types of escapism we indulge in (denial, distraction, deflect and destruction, and death), and the hope that God’s Word has for those who want to escape.
The key chapter is really chapter three. Here, Witt lays out the alternative or “better way.” Based on 1 Corinthians 10:13, he gives us the encouragement that we are not alone (temptations and trials are “common to man”), that God is faithful, and He provides us a way of escape. That way of “escape,” however, is not avoidance or conflict, but “courageous dependence” upon God. This is such a fresh approach to the tendency to escape. Many people have written on and sought to address the poor coping tool of escapism, but I don’t know of anyone who has framed it this way. There is a solid theology here that gives genuine hope in trouble. It’s also a useful way to orient ourselves towards resolution.
Because we can depend upon God, Witt provides us with a “three-part plan for courageous dependence.” The plan may look simple on paper, but it is effective and certainly not simplistic. He starts by encouraging us to pray with humility. We must recognize our utter dependence upon God to find the help that we need. Too many problem solving strategies focus on self and tend to add weight and discouragement to our feelings of anxiety, insecurity, or hopelessness. “If it all depends on me then I don’t want to try!”Secondly, he challenges us to believe the gospel. This is not a simple evangelistic appeal but an effort to apply gospel truth to our situations. He tells us that “our heartfelt beliefs direct us” (35), therefore we need to feed our hearts gospel truths. What the gospel says about us, about God, about our future, etc. are all relevant details to our current struggles. Finally, he calls us to act. Dependence upon God displays itself in courageous steps. In the chapters that follow he guides us on what those actionable steps might look like for each scenario.
This was a really helpful book. I am thrilled to recommend it and will surely be stocking it in our resources closet at Cornerstone Soul Care. In particular I am excited to have a framework to use with those who are prone to procrastination. Rush gave me some useful tools and ways of thinking about that subject that I had not considered before. I love that the book is more robust than a mini book but still really accessible. I highly commend I Want to Escape.