A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller

51frH7R79DL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_What would one’s life look like if it was written with, and contained the elements that make for a good story?

This is the fundamental question that I believe Donald Miller is after in his new book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life. Don says that a great story contains “a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.” With these things in mind Don sets out to tell a story that I believe has the reader pausing, assessing whether or not he or she is living a great story in the life they are leading.

I have been waiting for the publication of this book ever since I heard about it. In fact, it is this idea of story that I heard Don preach at Mars Hills Church in Michigan sometime in 2007. My wife and I listened to the podcast as we drove across the California and Arizona desert, and we look at that message as a catalyst in encouraging our move to Texas and to step out in faith in new careers. As the book progressed (and it was a page turner for me), I found myself being drawn into what I found to be a more mature, subtle and better writer than in his previous works.

Don really captured a lot of the existential angst that I feel a large and growing generation of young adults are experiencing as they wander the landscape of relationships, careers and faith. And this book was an eloquent reminder that there is more to life than what most of us are living for. There are lots of great passages in the book, but let me leave you with one that has stuck with me ever since I read the words:

“I think this is when most people give up on their stories. They come out of college wanting to change the world, wanting to get married, wanting to have kids and change the way people buy office supplies. But they get into the middle and discover if was harder than they thought. They can’t see the distant shore anymore, and they wonder if their paddling is moving them forward. None of the trees behind them are getting smaller and none of the trees ahead are getting better. They take it out on their spouses, and they go looking for an easier story.” (pp. 179)


  1. by Jim Gray on September 29, 2009  9:52 am Reply

    It left me wanting more...Dude...great review...I'm still new to the review thing and I was pretty sure that you would write a good one. What else are you reading?

    • by Rhett Smith on September 29, 2009  10:18 am Reply


      Thanks man...I actually could have written a super long review....I had a lot of things that I wanted to share about the book. But understandably, Thomas Nelson requires you to keep it short. Around 200-300 words....

      I will probably post some longer stuff later.

      I've been reading a lot of books on writing recently. Annie Dillard's "The Writing Life." Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird." About to start "The War of Art" by Steve Pressfield. And then some therapy books, etc. Also have "Deep Church" by Jim Belcher on my nightstand.

      Hopefully I can get to them soon....
      .-= Rhett Smith´s last blog ..A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller =-.

  2. by Lantz Howard on September 29, 2009  12:47 pm Reply

    So I see you are a Thomas BRB as well. I thought this is one of his best works thus far as well. I actually missed getting the book from Thomas when they offered, but I had a friend who he received two of them and so I got the other one. I have already passed it on for others to read. I love the scene about the wealthy guy and his family jumping into the water. May we all continue to build a meaningful narrative into our lives.

    On a therapy note, I thought this was great book to explain to clients a narrative approach in a counseling session.

    • by Rhett Smith on September 29, 2009  12:50 pm Reply


      I love that story...sticks out in my memory more than most scenes in the book. I thought that was a great metaphor for the family's live.

      And yeah, I think you are on to something as for using it as a tool for a narrative approach in counseling.

      I love narrative therapy and some of the things it has to offer. Looking forward to chatting with you.

      .-= Rhett Smith´s last blog ..A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller =-.

  3. by TIM on September 29, 2009  7:09 pm Reply

    Some time ago, a friend said to me: "I want a story to tell my grandchildren." Those words really spoke to me and made me so want to live that I would have a story to tell my grandchildren. In my friends words I hear Donald Miller's words. Great novels, plays, and movies, always have conflict and trouble. If they don't have the conflict or trouble we wouldn't pay them any attention. I guess we ought not to long for quiet, untroubled lives. Thanks for the entry Rhett.

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