Dear friends and readers–thank you so much for your patience with my greatly diminished online presence. I am in the middle of what feels like a soul detox. At times living in active surrender is so hard with insecurity and pride both vying for a foothold. Nonetheless, Mitch and I feel like God is working and stirring His Spirit in us. But right now He has called us to the waiting.
I am currently working on a launch team for Jack Deere’s new book, Even in Our Darkness: A Story of Beauty in a Broken Life. (Amazon Affiliate Link) It is a powerful memoir of God’s faithfulness, pursuit, and beauty within a life riddled with brokenness–both from internal and external circumstances. Renowned professor, speaker, pastor, and author Jack Deere lets readers into some of his family’s darkest struggles. He shares parts of his life that so many of us have (pastors and speakers included) but don’t let people readily see.
Mitch and I have also been reading through one of Jack’s older books, Surprised by the Power of the Spirit. I will admit we are working our way through it slowly. This is mostly because every other paragraph seems to spark discussion for us. Jack challenges us in ways that we have never been challenged. It is a scholarly resource tackling a topic that we had a lot of questions about having grown up in a cessationism faith background.
Even in Our Darkness: A Story of Beauty in a Broken Life is a very different book. The former book is scholarly in tone, while this one is deeply personal and compelling. Jack’s story is heartbreaking at times. But God’s faithfulness–the way He never gives up–is beautifully evident throughout Jack’s life. This book is a testimony no longer to the intelligence or wit of Jack Deere, but a testimony of God’s deep love and goodness in pursuing him until he comes to the end of himself.
Jack Deere’s book falls into a movement of brokenness happening in our world right now. Many Christian writers, such as Ann Voskamp, are breaking the silence and calling us to quit hiding our brokenness. It is often through our brokenness that God works most profoundly.
As a child I remember day dreaming about being a part of my best friend’s family who seemingly “had it all together.” A few years later I realized they were far more broken than I could have imagined. Moreover, if you got close enough, most families were broken in some way or another. Yet, few would ever know it through the public facade. No one wanted to admit they truly needed help, needed Jesus.
This duplicity was my first lesson in the sad propaganda that our brokenness is not welcome at church. Church wasn’t a place for healing–but a place for performing. Even when glimpses of pain were shared through prayer requests, so often they were edited. When on the rare occasion people came forward for prayer, it seemed a long, lonely walk of shame. Coming forward was more of a public announcement of failure than the joy and comfort of the prodigal returning home or the woman caught in adultery looking up into the compassionate face of Jesus.
Now when I see people go forward for prayer they are not alone. Many go forward. There is no public announcement afterward, unless desired. They are gathered around, hands laid, and prayers lifted. The church doesn’t wait, hushed, for an explanation. Worship continues as prayers are lifted. Though I still battle the fear that if I ever went forward for prayers I would be alone? Would the room hush with intrigue?
Over time I have come to believe the things we most dread–the times that bring us to the brink of brokenness and collapse–are often the times we will look back on with a strange sense of gratitude. We do this rarely for the events themselves, but often for how God moved and made Himself present within them.
“God was making himself at home in my heart, having slipped in through the crack of an open wound.” – Jack Deere
Even when we are oblivious to our brokenness, sin struggles, or numb to pain and grief, God is still working on and in us. I didn’t expect my first blog post in awhile to be a book review. However, in many ways this book coincides with our story and God’s faithfulness in our lives.
Within recent months God’s goodness, love, and grace have truly become the author of our story. When I pause to reflect on how God brought us from white knuckling and complacency to restored joy and intimate communion with Him–I well up with gratitude and adoration for Him. His love spreads through me like the times I step in front of a roaring fire–hands held out–the cold shrinking from my body when confronted with such warmth.
Lately, I’ve been profoundly moved by witnessing a vision of a diverse church come together in brokenness and authenticity to seek healing, restoration, and to rejoice and worship. I’ve met several people who, hardly even knowing my name, have willingly shared their scars, their struggles–both past and present. Through their testimony I see a God who loves and pursues. Who never gives up. Who offers joy, even amidst deep grief.
In Jack’s story, you see the heights and the depths. The successes, the failures, the deceitfulness of pride, and the surrender to brokenness and healing.
“When I open myself up to his light, the end feels more like a beginning, a flicker at dawn that spreads until everything radiates under the noonday sun.” – Jack Deere
Even in Our Darkness by Jack Deere is available for preorder with a few great bonuses. (Release date March 6th.) Mitch and I have both really been impacted by memoirs this year. And Jack’s memoir is a testimony to God’s love in a way that will leave you changed. Learn more at EvenInOurDarkness.com
***An interesting sidenote for those who have already preordered and read the book. My husband was talking with a pastor at our church here in Columbia who was talking like he knew Jack Deere. When Mitch asked him, he replied that yes, Jack’s son Scott had attended Mizzou and attended Christian Fellowship while he was here. During that time Jack also came out and spoke. I really didn’t know this. It is crazy when worlds overlap in unexpected ways.