Sunday, May 4, 2014

Lost and Found: Finding Hope in the Detours of Life, by Sarah Jakes

From the publisher:

Don't let your past keep you from a full future.
Like every girl, Sarah Jakes dreamed of a life full of love, laughter, and happy endings. But her dreams changed dramatically when she became pregnant at age thirteen, a reality only compounded by the fact that her father, Bishop T.D. Jakes, was one of the most influential megachurch pastors in the nation. As a teen mom and a high-profile preacher's kid, her road was lonely. She was shunned at school, gossiped about at church. And a few years later, when a fairy-tale marriage ended in a spiral of hurt and rejection, she could have let her pain dictate her future.
Instead, she found herself surrounded by a God she'd given up on, crashing headlong with Him into a destiny she'd never dreamed of. Sarah's captivating story, unflinchingly honest and deeply vulnerable, is a vivid reminder that God can turn even the deepest pain into His perfection.
More than a memoir, Lost and Found offers hope and encouragement. Perhaps you, like Sarah, find yourself wandering the detours of life. Regardless of how lost you feel, you, too, can be found.

My Review:

Where do I even begin? I'm not sure how I first heard about this book, but I distinctly remember that from the moment I did, I wanted to read it. This book called my name and after reading it, I think maybe it was the voice of God that was leading me to it. As I began writing this review, the tears were still drying on my cheeks and my face still puffy from crying.

I am finding it difficult to review this book from my normal angles -- the quality of the writing, the word choices, the flow of the book, whether or not the point was made, etc. I really can't tell you much about any of those things except for the last... I got the message. Loud and clear. I'm sure that the writing was fine, although at times I was a little like, "What is she talking about???? Huh???" but I didn't miss the message. I recommend this book from the stand-point of a book reviewer; no doubt about it, Sarah's story is inspiring.

From the perspective of a woman needing the message that God had for her in the pages of this book, I highly recommend this book. Sarah has been through a lot of difficult things based on poor choices that she has made in her life, and even in the times that she lost sight of the fact that God has a plan for her, God never lost sight of Sarah.

I've made mistakes... a lot of them. I have suffered the consequences of my poor choices and have been in the depths of discouragement over my sins, my disappointment in myself, feeling like a failure, feeling like I've let others down, like I've let myself down. I have wondered, despite what I know to be true, if I have stood in the way of God's plan for my life and irreversibly altered my destiny. But the unchangeable truth is that God is God and I am not. God says, "I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11). The God I serve is bigger than my sins and before He laid the foundations of the earth, He mapped out the plan of salvation. Nothing I do can ever separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (see Rom. 8:38, 39). This is the message of the book.

Sarah tried to direct her own life and create what she thought she should be doing. It was only when she fully surrendered her pain and her past to Christ that He began to work out His plans for her that would allow her to shine for His glory. "Cease striving and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth" (Ps. 46:10). When we quit trying to steer our own destiny, when we "cease striving" and know that HE is God, He is a God of love, He is a God who does not fail, He is a God of mercy and grace, He is a God who abounds in goodness, He is a God with a plan, He is the creator, the sustainer, the alpha, omega... When we stop and realize that He is the I AM, then He can work out His plans in us that will exalt Him above all.

I relate so much to many parts of Sarah's story. Not necessarily the specific scenarios of her life, but where her heart was, her personal struggles... the symptoms might look a little different, but the struggle is the same.

As 2013 wrapped up, I passed my wedding day that didn't happen, still dealing with the pain of a broken engagement only one month prior... As painful as it was, God's grace flowed out of that experience. All I have ever wanted is to be married, to have children... I was so close. In her book, Sarah writes, "What are you willing to sacrifice on the quest for God's will? Are you willing to give up on what you want, how you want it, and when you want it? Or are you so obsessed with having everything right now that He stops fighting with you? God let me have my way. He gave me everything I asked for, and it all tore me apart. I had a successful husband, a beautiful home, amazing children, and a wonderful family. It just didn't seem as pretty anymore once I finally got it." I thank God for not giving me everything I asked for; because I almost had it... and in hindsight, it wasn't that great. I still hurt; not over my loss of J, but over the loss of the dream, the what could have beens... of being in that position in the first place, led there by desperation, loneliness, and settling for less than what God desired for me. Led there by my own insecurities.

I hate that I'm single at almost 27. It is painful, it is lonely, and it is discouraging. I wonder if my poor choices throughout my life have robbed me of what my heart desires most... not punishment, per se, but just forcing God to move on to plan B (or C or D...). "This is a reminder that one detour doesn't cancel our destination. These words are for the whispers that haunt us and tell us life is over. This book is for your shattered pieces. You have been beautifully wounded." I wonder what God's plan is for me... I question whether or not a husband and children are part of that plan. I struggle with knowing that what I desire is a God-given desire placed in the heart of man, from the moment Adam realized that all creatures except him had a mate and God created Eve to be his help-meet. What I desire is not sinful or bad, but yet God chooses to not give me my desire right now and I don't know that He ever will. I think He wants me to desire Him, His will, His plan more than any ideas I might have for myself. I have been beautifully wounded, and through Lost and Found, I have been reminded that God has a plan that is not altered by my poor choices; He is just waiting for me to say yes. Waiting for me to sacrifice my own will in exchange for His."You have to try to trust Him with the parts of you that still hurt. He's not expecting perfection. All He needs is a yes."

"If there is anything more devastating than heartbreak, it has to be the feelings we carry when we feel we've lost our destiny. When the things we hoped for feel so incredibly out of reach, we resent our surroundings because it's not what we envisioned. Somehow during these times we must learn to thank God for His provision. I'm convinced how you handle a setback will determine the strength of your comeback." This is not the life I envisioned, but it's the one I have. "Even though your life may not be what you wanted, it's still a life that someone else isn't here to enjoy. It's yours." Lately I've been trying to thank God for His provision... for the character He's building in me through these painful experiences. For the opportunities that I've had to be independent and strong and learn to do things on my own because I've had no other choice.

In addition to those included above, here are a few other quotes from the book:

"Maybe we aren't as lost as we think we are. We just can't see beyond the shame of being lost in the first place."

"Perhaps our biggest issue is not that we can't see ourselves; it's that we can't accept that even when we're broken, His love for us has not been distorted."

"When God chooses to trust us with grace, it's because He believes that we're capable fo doing things better than we did before.

Merciful God that He is, He doesn't just leave us in our misery to suffer. When we learn to find peace in trial, He knows that our season of suffering can come to an end. So often we look for Him to calm the storms of our lives. But there are times when the storm can't go away because we need the rain. 

Can you stop being afraid of the thunder long enough to feel the rain?"

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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