I got a letter from a reader the other day. it was titled ‘First thoughts after getting kicked in the gut...’ It went well with the other explanations people give when they’re reading. Men, if they’ve been there, want to know if they’re going to cry all the way through, or just during the first half. If they haven’t been there, they feel like they’re getting kicked somewhere else. I have some who cry in the dedication.
People are telling me about healing and hope. Some are telling me about intense conviction and a leveling of religious ego and building up the ‘love’ that we’re meant to be defined by.
‘Grace Is For Sinners‘ covers so much territory. It seems to be whatever that person needs, whether they like it or not. It’s a challenge. For some, it’s the challenge of their life. It’s a journey that will leave you forever changed.
With her permission, here is an excerpt from my latest letter. Can you identify?
Finished “Grace is for Sinners” …I intentionally didn’t read it at home, and waited until I was safely packed away on a business trip that would leave me in Isolation over the weekend. I read it then.
So…here’s the initial reaction, …sobbing and all. At least you get to read it without the tear-stains.
I finished ‘Grace is for Sinners’ this afternoon. I started it a few days ago…read late the first night. Yesterday I didn’t pick it up. Partly because I didn’t want to face the rest of ‘Grace…’ quite yet. But I picked it up and finished the book my daughter calls ‘raw’. She is right. It’s raw and real and causes me to smell the smell of rotten stuff buried deep within myself. The smell of sin is hard to ignore when it surfaces.
I walked a few blocks to help erase the smell. The breeze was fresh and clean and helped me to ignore the noxious odor. I had all but forgotten the stench. All but.
Things were sifting around below the surface of my mind…I knew stuff was there, I didn’t want to think about them, yet. Then I looked up to the sky and tears came fast to my eyes.
“I want to know You. I want to trust You completely. I can’t live this half-life anymore. Help me.”
I was praying and walking back to the hotel. I don’t know what this all means. I do know that I don’t want life to go back to normal. Ever. I don’t want this to be a ‘high’ that gives me goosebumps and then is gone when ‘real life’ hits. It’s not a high. I’m as scared as I’ve ever been, and feel vulnerable.
When my daughter asked my reaction, my word was ‘shocked’. Not at the story…it’s all too known in the church today, in various ways, some subtle, some flaunted. Shocked was what I chose for how far from God’s Truth we have strayed, and how little we seem to realize or care that we have done so.
You have voiced in this book much of what I’ve been trying to put to words for many long years. Why isn’t the church relevant to others as it should be? Why is the New Testament church not what we see today. How can we change what needs to be changed?
I have clung to the hope that some day, some way, things would be better. Our lives would live up to what our mouths speak. Or our lives would follow what our hearts knew to be the Truth. I still have that hope. I don’t know if I will get to see it happen, but I know that God’s Bride will become the beauty he deserves.