Ruth Graham--third daughter of Billy Graham--has discovered through bitter personal experience that God does his great work in the ruins of our lives. As Ruth's life descended through divorce, depression, and shame; as she bore heartrending parental struggles; and as she faltered trying to make wise choices in the wake of bad ones, she discovered the unending embrace of a faithful, forgiving, and grace-filled God. This book surpasses the testimony of her fascinating story as she brings sharp new insight from the Word of God for all who fear their actions may be beyond forgiveness or their broken circumstances may keep them from being used by God ever again. Through the words of Jeremiah--the weeping prophet--Ruth reveals the God who makes wasted places come to life. The reader grasps the parable of the Prodigal Son as never before as Ruth discloses her own journey through that parable, first as the indignant older brother struggling to understand God's grace toward her husband's infidelity, then as the prodigal when her own actions bring deep shame and painful circumstances, and even in her role as the father, running to embrace her own children in the midst of bulimia, drug abuse, and unwed pregnancy. Finally, Ruth includes practical steps in every chapter anyone can take to offer care, support, and hope to the broken people they encounter in their lives and in the pews beside them every Sunday. The broken and those who love them will run with Ruth to the arms of the God they can trust, the Father God who embraces, sustains, and redeems.
By turns memoir, Bible study and self-help book, Graham's platform as the daughter of beloved evangelist Billy Graham gives her the credentials to spin this competent tale of brokenness. But she offers more than a famous lineage: "I am qualified to write this book because I am flawed," she writes. She shares her struggles parenting three children through out-of-wedlock pregnancies, drug use and bulimia; her battle with depression and flirtation with suicide, and her disappointment over her two divorces. "I know what it's like to sit in the pew with a broken heart," says Graham. It's her vulnerability in the memoir portions that lend credence to the fairly basic application items at the end of the chapters. (Advice to those experiencing suffering: "seek godly counsel" and "maintain your daily devotional times with God.") Graham finds solace for the brokenhearted through scripture, looking at the lives of Jeremiah, Elijah and other biblical examples. Unlike many inspirational books of this ilk, there's no fairytale ending. Graham admits she is in the midst of a third faltering marriage, but says she's grateful God accepts her as she is--"hurting, wounded, broken." In true Graham fashion, the book concludes with an altar call. Weary Christians disappointed with the way their lives have turned out should find this a heartening read.
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September 30, 2008
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