Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Book Review...Kind of

Sorry the blog has been kind of quiet since last week's "Not Me" Monday post.  I have been reading this book, and really wanted to do a post about it.  I finished it last Friday night at work and spent the weekend thinking about it.  I really felt like I needed to read it again, highlighter in hand, so I could learn what God wanted me to get out of it.  So, I decided to read it again on Monday and Tuesday nights at work.  I was able to get it finished early this morning, and wanted to share my thoughts about it.

Definitely read this book!  The main character in this book is Abraham, who I love!  His example is definitely something to look up to, even though he was far from perfect.  She starts when God calls him out of his homeland, covers the rest of his life, and ends with his death "at a good, old age." (Genesis 25:8)  Abraham made it His life's goal to follow this "Magnificent Obsession" that God planted on his heart.  He made mistakes along the way, but, when all was said and done, no one could doubt that Abraham was a "friend of God."  (James 2:23)

I love the intro Anne Graham Lotz gives:

If . . .
If you are a member of the younger generation who sometimes feels the
traditional church is irrelevant . . .
If you are a member of the older generation who sometimes feels
excluded by the contemporary church . . .
If you are a member of my generation who has been raised in the church
and has been burned by the hypocrisy within . . .
If you have been a seeker of God but have been hurt by those who call
themselves by His name . . .
If you consider yourself a Chris tian but are not actively involved in, or
even currently attending, a church . . .
If you attend a home church, seeking God outside the mainstream . . .
If you are a believer in exile . . .
If you are a liberal who is uncomfortable with the God of the religious
right . . .
If you are a conservative who is uncomfortable with the God of the
progressive left . . .
If you are a member of another religion but feel dissatisfied and
unfulfilled in your relationship with God . . .
If you just have a restlessness in your spirit, believing that there must be
something more to life than you are experiencing . . .
 this book is dedicated to you.
 That pretty much covers all believers, doesn't it?  A lot of us have been Christians since we were young children, but have never really lived out our faith in our everyday life.  Or, we were on fire during a certain season of our lives, but the fire fizzled.  Sometimes that happens when we have never fully given Christ every aspect of our lives.  When we do that, we're stifling God's blessing!  He wants to give us abundantly more than we could ever even think to ask! (Malachi 3:10)  So often, we want what we want and don't take the time to ask God if that's what He wants for us.  One of my favorite quotes from the book (which I actually wrote on a piece of paper and used as a bookmark) was this:

"If you insist on getting what you want, on what you have a right to have, watch out!  You may get it!  And you may then wind up with a lot less than God wants to give you!"

This got me to thinking what it is that I think I have a "right" to have, but haven't been given.  It occurred to me that, often, I think I have the "right" to have a biological baby.  (You knew it would come in to play, didn't you?)  While God calls children a blessing (Psalm 127:3-5), He never says we have a right to have them.  Where did I get this idea? Is it because most people have children?  Is it because I see children born into terrible family or world situations and I think to myself, "I could do so much better!  Why doesn't the Lord choose to bless me with a child that I have the right to have?!?"  Then, I begin a cycle where I get a little bitter.  I wonder why, when God has the ability to fix whatever is preventing us from conceiving, He chooses not to?  Then, Anne Graham Lotz comes along and slaps me in the face with that little gem!

Now, do I think this means that God will never give us a biological child?  No.  I don't get the idea that is the case (or maybe I just am trying to ignore that it's a possibility).  I think He's saying that it will happen when He wants it to happen, and not a second sooner.  No amount of temperature taking, cervix checking, intercourse timing, doctor visiting, or pill taking will make it happen any sooner than He wants it to.  (That's not to say that I plan to stop the fertility treatments.  God gave us doctors for a reason, and I don't think He has a problem with fertility assistance as long as He is being glorified and obeyed in the process.)  Also, He's pointing out, through Mrs.Lotz, that He is going to bless us more than we could ever imagine in the process.  We've already seen His blessings flow down on us as almost a direct result of our infertility.  I think of the people we wouldn't know (Asher! Internet friends!), activities we wouldn't be involved in (Foster care!  Infertility blogging!), and knowledge we wouldn't have (The intricate workings of the female reproductive system!) if we hadn't been given this infertility journey.  Our lives would be vastly different!  He has already surpassed our most lofty ideas for our lives, and He's promised to work even more magnificently in the future.  He may not ever bless us with a biological child, but He has still blessed us beyond our imaginations.

I loved the part of the book where she talks about Mary and Martha (Lazarus' sisters).  They had called for Jesus when Lazarus was sick, because they were friends with Him.  But, Jesus didn't come!  In fact, He waited until Lazarus had died to visit Mary and Martha.  One of the sisters confronts Him about it, and He states he is glad that Lazarus is dead!  He basically says, "If I'd come when he was still living, you would have been happy that I healed him, of course.  But you wouldn't get to see what I'm truly capable of!  However, now, you'll get to watch me really work!" (That's my paraphrase)  I came to the conclusion that if God hadn't given us infertility, we wouldn't know what it's like to truly have to depend on Him for the desires of our hearts.  We'd take it for granted.  We would be complacent.  However, through this journey, we have gotten to see--and will continue to see-- Him truly work His magic!  In addition, think of how thankful and full of praise we will be if He does choose to bless us with a child!  Sure, we'd be happy if we were able to conceive without any intervention, but to see 2 lines on a pregnancy test after years of seeing a single, lonely line, will leave little doubt that God has been working in our lives.  We will have no choice but to fall down and praise Him!

This book took me through various highs and lows as I came to important and long-overdue conclusions about my life.  Here comes one of the lows...

One area in which I have been really convicted as a result of this book is in my prayer and bible reading life.  Can I be completely honest?  I am terrible!  I can always think of a million other things to do (sleep! eat! play with Asher! check facebook! watch Ni Hao Kai Lan!), and, as a result, I rarely "find" the time to read my bible and pray.  I have decided to, with God's help, change that.  It may require missed sleep or less facebook time, but I know God will bless me for it.  As Anne's "friend Jill Briscoe has said, 'It's better to be sleep deprived than God deprived.'"

A whole section of one of her chapters is entitled "He Understands Your Secret Loneliness."  This section, although just a page in length, made me think.  While I don't struggle with loneliness a lot, I often feel a little alone in my struggle.  My awesome, loving husband is there for me and with me every step of the way, but he will probably be the first to tell you that women and men handle things differently.  As a result, I don't have many real life friends that I can share my struggles with who understand where I'm coming from.  This is where my online friends are of GREAT help to me.  Without them, I would often have no one at all to talk to who understands my feelings.   (Honey, I know you're reading this, and I hope you're not offended!  I love you more than I could ever express on paper...err...screen.)  It is great and comforting to know that, even though I may be feeling alone, God is always with me and can understand what I'm going through.

While many things hit me about this book, and I just want to hit the high points, I wanted to share one last thing with you.  Anne talks about the well-known section in Luke 7 about the sinful woman and her alabaster jar.  In case you're not familiar, you can read it here.  This passage has been brought to my attention multiple times this week  Once, I heard it from my husband's own mouth on Sunday as he was filling the pulpit for our pastor (since, I love my husband, and I think he's awesome, I suggest you listen to his sermon when you're done reading my blog!  You can listen to it here.)  The other time was in this book.  While most people focus on the fact that Jesus can save even the most sinful of people, that's not what hit me most when I read it in the book.

I remember hearing that the jar of perfume that she broke and poured onto Jesus was VERY expensive.  In fact, it was probably to be her dowry.  Since she poured it at His feet, she would have no hope for a husband, and, therefore, no hope for a comfortable future.  However, she didn't care!  She took her most prized possession and layed it at Jesus' feet!  I long for that kind of faith!  I ache to hand over my most prized possessions and have full faith that God will take care of them and bless me in the process.  I pray that God will work in my heart to get me to that point.


The Flukens October 1, 2009 at 12:41 AM  

Wow, that was beautifully written and really touched my heart. I am definitely going to try to get that book. Thank you for sharing Krystal! :)

Brenda October 1, 2009 at 7:59 AM  

great review! Who mentioned you should read this book??? :) She must really love you!

Anonymous October 1, 2009 at 8:37 AM  

Jamie~ Thanks so much. I highly recommend the book! You should write a review of it when you do, so we can all know what you think of it!

Brenda~ One of my good friends from Georgia recommended this book to me! She is super! ; )

Missy Bennett October 2, 2009 at 7:36 PM  

Baby, I am so proud of you...and not just because you're a great writer...but because you have grown up to be such a godly woman. I can't wait to read this book!