God grant you the light in Christmas, which is faith;
the warmth of Christmas, which is love;
the radiance of Christmas, which is purity;
the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice;
the belief in Christmas, which is truth;
& all of Christmas, which is Christ.
--Wilda English

Monday, September 8, 2014

Colliding With Destiny: Finding Hope in the Legacy of Ruth

I am pleased to be a book reviewer for Bethany House.  Each month I am sent a list of books that are soon to be released.  I choose a book from this list & am provided with a free copy.  In return I promise to read the book & give it an honest review.

The book I am reviewing this month is Colliding With Destiny:  Finding Hope in the Legacy of Ruth by Sarah Jakes.  I chose this selection because I have always been inspired by the biblical account of Ruth.  I expected that the author would take me a bit deeper into Ruth's character, maybe introduce me to a few things I hadn't seen before, but she far surpassed my expectations.

There are 30 short chapters in this book, each one based on a verse or two from the Book of Ruth & focusing on the changes she experienced & the choices she made after her husband's death.  Briefly stated, her life as she knew it ... as she had expected it to always be ... had ceased to exist.  Her mother-in-law, Naomi, also a widow, encouraged Ruth to return to her parents' home while she herself returned to her homeland.  Ruth, however, loved Naomi deeply & refused to leave her on her own, making the choice to return with her to Bethlehem.

The changes in Ruth's new life were many & her future uncertain.  The author takes the reader step by step through each difficulty Ruth encountered & shows how she overcame them through her deep faith in God & a determination to not let circumstances define her.  She kept doing what she knew was right.

We can make the same choices:  to trust God with our lives, to honor & obey Him above all else, & to see ourselves as He sees us.  We do not need to live our lives based on the negative image someone else tries to create in us.  We do not need to allow someone's negative words to determine who we are or who we become.  We do not need to allow circumstances to dictate our paths. We do not have to give up when the going gets tough.

Ms. Jakes ends each chapter with these three things:

1.  A journal entry where she shares personal experiences that reflect upon the chapter just read.  I deeply admire an author who is willing to share his or her own mistakes & struggles.  It is much better to say "I understand" with a personal illustration showing how you understand, rather than stopping with those two words which can leave a person wondering if you really understand at all.

2.  A series of questions for you to answer.  I have read books where an author gives you questions to deepen your understanding of a chapter & how it relates to your life, or to simply deepen your understanding of yourself in general.  In the majority of these cases, I have found these questions to be of no benefit whatsoever.  The questions Ms Jakes gives in this book, however, are both well thought out & thought provoking.

3.  A short prayer to ask God for help &/or healing based on the focus of the chapter.  I have read prayers in other books which have often left me wondering what the author was trying to say, but Ms. Jakes shares prayers that are not only simply & beautifully written but relevant to the subject discussed & easily applied to one's own life.

There is a saying that was popular several years ago ... "keep on keeping on."  It means to persevere ... "to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success."  This meaning defines Ruth's life.  It can define yours & mine as well.