Monday, February 24, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway - Chasing God by Angie Smith




The kids were fighting with one another over who got to play with the LEGO Iron Man.  For some strange reason, all three boys suddenly had this overwhelming urge to play with that particular mini-figure of Tony Stark’s alter ego at the exact same moment.  Sharing was apparently not an option, so they had resorted to kicking, pushing, and screaming.  After what had already been a tough day, this was the breaking point for me and I started yelling.  I hollered at all of them and my words were not at all coming from a place of love.  When the tears started to erupt and the lower lips popped forward, I stomped off to my room and slammed the door behind me.  Fuming with both anger and regret, I hit my knees by my bed…and prayed.

Prayer has always been a struggle for me and I’ve never really been able to put my finger on exactly why.  In this particular moment, I felt so broken and desperate that I just cried out to God for rescue.   

Help me, I begged.  I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, like I’m doing everything wrong.  How can I claim to know and love you, but still feel so lost?  You once felt so close and now I find myself erupting in anger.  How can I find you, God?  Show me what I have to do to fix this.  Am I even doing anything right?  

Out of clear blue sky, I checked my email one day and found a message asking if I would be willing to read and review Angie Smith’s latest book.  When I say that Chasing God arriving at my door was an answer to prayer, it is not an exaggeration.  Flipping to the back cover, the first words I see written in a flowing script are, “Am I doing this right?”

Before I even opened to the first page, I knew this would be the book that could help me.  The one that would finally answer the questions I had about why I felt like all my striving was in vain.  You can imagine my amusement when I realized that Smith’s book is all about how we need to cease with our striving, reading all the right books, and doing all of the things in an effort to chase after God.  

Well played, Lord.  Well played.

Divided up into sections that address key theological issues such as salvation, prayer, doubt, scripture, and free will, Smith brilliantly weaves her theme throughout the book while simultaneously balancing personal experience and confession with entertaining anecdotes and scholarly references.  Turning each page was like watching an elaborate dance, anticipating what spin or movement would make me catch my breath next.

I underlined sentences like “What I do want to encourage is an approach to your Christian walk that is based more on Scripture than an emotional high or stellar sermon series” and then wrote Is this what I’ve been doing….USING God? in the margin.  Moments of self-realization like that are often uncomfortable, so I love that the author continues with a reassuring tone and an image of her falling in public.  It’s this tone that made this book so special.  It felt like I was reading a letter from a dear friend who, speaking to me from a place of love and concern, to help me identify the issue and discuss her experience with the same struggle.  

While the sections about reading Scripture and prayer were especially helpful to me, the most profound moment came at the end of the book when Smith focuses on Thomas, the notorious doubting disciple.  Our youngest son’s name is Thomas and when Smith elucidates some of details about Thomas and his encounter with the risen Christ, I could feel my heart pounding faster.  I have always been a little annoyed that my son’s name would be associated with being a “Doubting Thomas,” but Smith turns that moniker on its heel and uses the story of Thomas to drive home her message of experiencing the living God rather than chasing after him.  

I loved this book and dog-eared many pages not just for its wisdom, but for its ability to speak to my heart and make me remember long lost days of Lisa Frank Trapper Keepers.  While I fully understand that marking up yet another book about God rather than diving head first into the Word of God is just another (ironic) symptom of my tendency to chase God, I am grateful to Angie Smith for writing the book that has helped me change the way I think about my faith and encouraged me to stop and sit still for once.  She has encouraged me to change the way I approach reading the Bible, how I think about prayer, and how I value my relationship with Jesus.  

Chasing after God is exhausting for Type A crazies like me (and Angie....she admits as much).  I would highly recommend Chasing God to anyone who has ever felt like collapsing to their knees and crying out, Help me Lord.  Am I doing this right?  It’s a fantastic first step toward finding the rest in God that he so desperately wants for those he loves.  

Want to win your own copy of Chasing God?  To enter, just LEAVE A COMMENT below in response to this question - 

What's the last book you read that really HIT you? 
(Or, tell me about a book you've read that was just really, REALLY good.) 

**Don't forget to leave your email in your comment so I can contact you if you win!  Giveaway ends Friday, February 28th!**

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.  See below for the "official" drawing of the winner! 


(I was provided a free copy of "Chasing God" to read for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.)  
 

16 comments:

  1. Sarah--it's been a while since a book really HIT me. Maybe I'm due! Or maybe I'm reading the wrong books! I recently read Henri J. M. Nouwen's book, "Life of the Beloved" for a bible study, and I thought it was very thought-provoking. It definitely sparked some great discussions!

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  2. I ordered this book last week! I'm so excited for it to arrive on my doorstep!

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    1. Yes! You'll love it. Grab a pen and a highlighter, girl.

      If you win, you can give it away to a friend!

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  3. Sarah,
    The last book that hit me is "Winning Him Without Words". It is a book about being in a marriage and you and your husband are not in the same spot on your journey towards Christ. Thanks for helping me think back to that book. Its time to remember what I learned.

    I really enjoy the variety you have in your blog, from the funny kid/parenting stuff to the thought provoking spiritual stuff.

    Hope you are doing well with your husband still gone...

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    1. Ooooo...I might need to check that one out. It sounds like it would really resonate with where we are in our life right now.

      Thanks for the comment too! I sometimes worry that the things I write on here are a little too random, so it's good to hear it is appreciated. :)

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  4. I'm reading a book right now that is slapping me in the face! It's "What's It Like To Be Married To Me?" by Linda Dillow. The large print on the back is what grabbed me too, it says, "what will your husband say about you at your funeral?" Rather convicting about my attitude in general now and exactly what I need to be hearing from God. It practically jumped off of the shelf at me.

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    1. Sounds awesome! Yeah, that kind of tagline would grab me too. I love this because I'm adding a bunch of new books to my reading list! :)

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  5. Jodi Picoult's The Storyteller was the last book I read that truly hit me. It's about the Holocaust, and while the characters are fiction, she did so much research that it seemed so real. It affected me in so many ways that I can't even describe.

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  6. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It was the most grim, dreadful book I have ever read. I started it one evening and had to finish it that night because I knew if i put it down I would never pick it up again. Having a young son and knowing what "the father" was feeling, doing everything possible to keep his boy safe, trying to make a better life for his boy, trying to keep his boy seeing things in a positive light when all hope was lost was heart wrenching ....

    SPOILER ALERT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ..... and then the ending ..... the ending, i literally sat in my chair just staring into spacing thinking to myself, what if all I can do is not enough, what if at the end of the journey i fail ? I can not imagine letting my son down like that. that one stuck with me

    bill

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  7. Sarah- I have many feeling just like you describe. I sometimes wonder "am I even part of His plan?" Am I doing anything right? Then something happens where He shows me we are on the right path and we just need to stick close to Him. I need one of those messages now. "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young is speaking to me now. I am trying desperately to use those devotions to get me deeper into His word.

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    1. Gina, I can't tell you how many times that "Jesus Calling" book has come up in conversation lately. I think I definitely need to get it and put it on my nightstand so I reach for it right away in the morning instead of my phone. :)

      I think you would definitely enjoy this book.

      P.S. I REALLY MISS YOU!!!!!!

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  8. I was wowed by Angie's book "What Women Fear". This book, "Chasing God", looks every bit as good, and I am eager to read it and be wowed again.

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    1. Yes, I've read "What Women Fear" also. Powerful stuff. Angie really has a gift.

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  9. The book sounds amazing. I desperately need a spiritual boost right now! Haven't finished yet but currently reading and being "wowed" by God is Able by Pricilla Shirer. Usually cannot stand mom blogs but your blog is a breath of fresh air! Thank you!
    Mary Kate C
    marykate_84@hotmail.com

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    1. You just made me laugh. :) So glad you were able to breath a little "fresh air" today!

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