Let me say this upfront. When I think about Time Spent With God, I tend to think of peaceful time.
I don't tend to think of oceans roaring apart into walls of water and then closing again and crushing armies, I don't think of the sky going black around a bloody hill while everyone trembles, and I don't think of thrashing. Thrashing makes me uncomfortable. I don't want to thrash myself, and I don't want to see anyone I care about having to thrash about with God. I want everything to be easy for them, I want faith to be simple, and I want the results in their life to be nearly picture perfect.
Except you know what? If I had my way, I would be condemning people to deadness. The fact that a person has thrashed about with God means that they are alive, they have lost and found and felt their own strength, and that most of all they have encountered the truth that God is Alive and will thrash back with them.
Thrashing isn't pretty. It can't be whitewashed. It has to just be what it is. And that's how Mandy Steward's book unfolds: Raw, Honest, Personal, Genuine.
As much as she warns us that this is her own journey, and that no one else will duplicate it, I think she's speaking to a lot of us here.
With chapter titles like "Illiterate," "Darkness," "Naked," "Voice," "So?," "Mystery," "Love," "Labeled," "Rhythms," and "Friend," this book can evoke a lot of emotion and thought as you read.
That's why I'd keep this book handy. At different points on different days, there will be different chapters that hit you just right and help put cracks in the walls around your heart.
There are her thoughts on Divine Romance, on our expectations and the punishing judgements of others, on hearing our own frequently-smothered voices and the difficulty we have in accepting ourselves, on art and the need to create, and many other things. These aren't just lofty musings either.
They're deeply personal, learned by her own experience, and she gladly states that she's still discovering more, dancing to the song of God's Love and being shaped by His touch in every moment.
If you read this book, there will probably be many times when one concept or another meets you where you are. For me, in this reading, it was the way Mandy found out that God loves to woo us in ways that will appeal to us personally. These gifts, blessings, and messages are not even likely to come in expected packaging or conventional places. There were times she felt compelled to do something- watch a certain movie, for example, and she experienced God there where you'd never think to find Him.
Reading her story made me feel free to accept these touches of love. I may be receiving comfort from Bob Seger's music and Rich Mullins' music on the same day, and that is perfectly fine. God can speak through the haunting words of "Mainstreet" and "The Color Green." One praises Him directly, one is a ballad about the lostness and longings common to us humans.
Maybe we all need to live our lives with both eyes open and both hands out, comfortable in our own skin.
I'm really glad I read this book.
Thank you David C. Cook for my review copy.
Artist. Writer. Rebel. Gypsy Journalist. Secret Message Society Visionary. Mad Mystic. Amateur Thrasher. Doing this thing the only way I know how - my way. Show me your way. *Magic