Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Book Reviews: When I Lay My Isaac Down and A New Kind of Normal


I don't really take the time to read many book reviewing blogs. For one thing, I have long lists of books I intend to read one day and the thought of adding more is daunting. But, one of my Indianapolis blogging friends recently reviewed a book that I ran out and picked up right away. It just sounded so interesting and encouraging.

Carol Kent was a popular Christian speaker when suddenly her world was turned upside down by the arrest of her only son, Jason, for the murder of his wife's ex-husband. Jason was an unlikely candidate for murder. He was a strong Christian, honor roll student in high school, trained in the military, etc. But when his two new daughters were faced with the possibility of unsupervised visitation with their abusive father, something snapped. Carol tells the story with a full, open view of their heartache and their shaky legs which continued to stand on the promises of God.

I couldn't read these books without weeping. Their tale is one both sorrowful and enriching at the same time. You think to yourself, "I have so much less to contend with and yet they are choosing to remain grounded in Christ in ways I have only dreamt of."

In When I Lay My Isaac Down: Unshakable Faith in Unthinkable Circumstances, Carol tells the story of what happened and how it felt for she and her husband. She explains how, like Moses, she had to lay aside her own hopes and dreams for her son and rely on the wisdom and sustenance of God. I appreciated the fact that she didn't sugar coat anything. She readily admitted to her doubts and failings, but continued to come around to clinging to God's provision.


In the follow-up book, A New Kind of Normal: Hope-Filled Choices When Life Turns Upside Down, she goes on to explain their new normal. They now spend their weekends visiting their son in a maximum-security prison. They have lost contact with their daughter-in-law and granddaughters. Life has not turned into a rosy fairy tale ending, but they continue to rely on God. They continue to walk the road they must.

The thing I found most interesting was that Carol never chooses to voice what I would be agonizing over - the whole "what if" or "if only" questions of life. I would be wishing that my son had never chosen to marry the woman who brought into his life the girls and the helpless feelings of protective instinct. I would be wondering if the daughter-in-law selected Jason for the very fact of his military training and his moral convictions, perhaps hoping that he would fight for her honor and the innocence of her daughters. But, that is my tremendous weakness. I tend to wallow in the "what if" and the "if only." I tend to question God's provision rather than follow this example and place complete and total trust in the only Being strong and wise enough to prevail.

If you are struggling with circumstances beyond your control, if you feel beaten down by life's intervening tragedies, then you would benefit from reading Carol Kent's journey and the conclusion she draws. We are all called upon to give back our children to the Lord for his use, whatever that may be, but some of us have a harder road to walk in doing so. Carol Kent honestly conveys her journey, her faults and failings and God's wonderful assurance that one day they will embrace their son in total freedom, even if it is not on this side of eternity.

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