Tip of the hat to Jen Hatmaker who mentioned this book in her email to her subscribers. (Though I love Jen and I wish that she'd told me about the book while we were curled up with tea in her beautiful backyard, but whatever. She like a tweet of mine once. I guess I'll just hold onto that for now.)
I didn't know who Sheila was before I read this book. BUT it turns out that she has written several books , has hosted The 700 Club and is a singer. She also has spent time in a mental institution, and struggled with some things. This book talks about her struggle to trust God and his plan for her. Her story is interwoven in with biblical tales about trust and change and being open to God's plan for us. I hope this isn't an unkind thing to say but I found the Biblical parts the most telling. But I have a good reason why.
I think people have a hard time putting the Bible into context with historical events. Like, she mentions that Paul is preaching around the time of Roman emperor Nero. I know that I have a hard time putting things on a timeline (an not just biblical events. What else was happening when Napoleon was thundering around? Genghis Khan? The Ming Dynasty). So when she points those things out it's really helpful. Also there's information about Jewish social practices, word translations, etc. which really gives a new dimension into what may be really familiar Bible stories.
The story of Lazarus that she recounts had a lot of intereting tidbits.
Did you know:
- "The Jews believed that for 3 days the soul might return to it's grave, t thinking that it would reenter the body; but on day four it sees the color of it's face has changed and leaves for good". (Maybe a reason that Jesus waited so long to raise Lazarus. So that people would know that he was really dead and not like, in a coma. The "he began to smell" part plays into that too.
-Jesus rolls the stone away in front of Lazarus' tomb. "Jesus addresses his friend: "Lazarus, come out. The Greek text translates this literally "Lazarus, it's this way out", for surely Jesus is directing his friend out of a dark place".
There's also the story of Paul: you find out what perks (and problems) his Roman citizenship presented, how his "mission" style changed post-conversion and how many times he had been shipwrecked (spoiler alert: it's 3).
There's also some really interesting tidbits about the men that Jesus encounters on Good Friday - Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus.
We also hear about Anna (a woman who "shows up and waits" for the LORD to use her), Joseph (maybe bragging about your dreams to your already jealous brothers was not a really great move), and Tabitha a woman who devoted her life to Jesus and the care of the poor.
This book is part memoir and part Bible history, and the Bible history compelled me more. But the openess with which Sheila speaks of her troubles and struggles is humbling and enlightening.