Today I am privileged to be introducing you to a woman who has lived through the valley of suffering and come to find life as she has given over her human desires, and been transformed into the person God made her to be.
I met Lara Williams online in 2010. We both joined a memorization encouragement group while my kids and I were memorizing Philippians. We also both participated in the Hello Mornings Challenge. Later Lara and I served together on the writing team at Do Not Depart.
Through her writing, as well as the few occasions when I have heard her speak by video or live chat, I have come to understand that Lara is a woman after God's own heart.
It became clear to me, soon after we met, that something had happened in her life that had prompted a radical transformation. I have read a lot of Christian writers, people gifted with words and with a solid knowledge of the bible. But Lara is one of those rare writers who conveys a deep passion, a sacrificial love for God, that is a reflection of a heart truly laid down. You won't find legalism in Lara. I was certain that this was a woman who had walked through suffering.
Lara just released her very first solo book, To Walk or Stay, this week. When she offered pre-release digital copies for reviewers, I jumped at the chance. I find myself having many opportunities to review books these days. Frankly, I don't have time. The fact that this is the first review I have done here underscores how highly I respect Lara, and how much I think this book will bless you. For Lara, I made time, because I knew that her words would be anointed.
To Walk or Stay is a book about a marriage, yes, but marriage only provides the backdrop for a radically transforming journey. The crux of this book is taking an honest look at one's own heart and laying it all out before Jesus. Lara says:
The ultimate point of this book is to show you how I wrestled before my God in the midst of a devastating valley and to testify to His faithful guidance. You won't get tips on which counselor to see -- though we saw many counselors. You won't get instructions on which boundaries to lay -- though lines were drawn. You won't read a detailed account of my husband's transformation before His God -- though he's a different man. What you will get is a dare: a dare to take God at His Word and a dare to allow His promises to affect the choices you make today.
- To Walk or Stay, p. 10
Lara was a Christian before she walked through this valley. A bible-believing seminary-graduated Christian. But in many ways she was a caterpillar Christian. It took the road of pain to grow her into a butterfly, a beautiful child of God free to truly enjoy all He had for her.
Because Lara was open to allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to transform, God is now using her in mighty ways. I am sure she would be the first to say that the impact she has as a writer and speaker is all because of Him, and for His glory.
As you know, I have a passion for God's Word because it has transformed my life, and the lives of many I know. God-breathed Truth is a catalyst for deep life change. Lara experienced this as well:
To think that God would speak through His Word to those seeking His face humbles me. His Word breathes. If we are willing to look and listen, it meets us in the fires of life and soothes the burn on an intimate level. Through His Word He promises, prophecies and penetrates even the hardest of hearts. Through it He guides even through the darkest of valleys – through whatever valley we find ourselves treading. - To Walk or Stay, p. 18
As we meditate on God’s Word rather than our volatile feelings, hope arises. As we choose to ponder the Truth of His character rather than our fleeting circumstance, peace falls. He gives us this one life, these few days. May we not waste them with futile thinking. - To Walk or Stay, p. 47
Using plentiful scripture, To Walk or Stay leads you through a journey that includes
- examining your thought life
- questioning unrealistic expectations set up by worldliness
- choosing forgiveness
- actively embracing prayer
- faithful waiting
The sorrow that we experience today may be the very thing that God uses for His glory tomorrow. - Adam WilliamsDon't you just want to stand up and shout "Amen!"?
Again, while this book will be immensely helpful to anyone experiencing challenges in their marriage - and folks, we're all sinners, so that's all of us, yes? - it is applicable to any area of suffering. Perhaps you have a prodigal child, have been deeply wounded, or are experiencing debilitating illness. You too will be blessed by this book. I think you will find it will help change how you think about the trials in your life.
As I read this book, I noted quotes I wanted to share here, but a review isn't really supposed to reprint the book, right? ;-) How about I just give you a copy of To Walk or Stay instead? The winner will be chosen on Friday, March 29, 2013. UPDATE: Congratulations Angie W! You won!
But if you just can't wait, go ahead and buy yours today!
Read the book. Be blessed. And live free in Him, friends. Live free!