How to Survive a Shipwreck: Help is on the Way and Love is Already Here - Jonathan Martin
"The waters that drown you are the same waters that will save you; and the same sea that is pulling you under is the sea that will make you new."
I don't remember when or where I was introduced to Jonathan. Somehow, I stumbled across a copy of his first book, Prototype, and was forever changed. I won't go into too much detail, but there is a passage where he imagines John the Baptizer meeting Jesus for the first time, and it took my breath away. Like I threw the book across the room in tears because it was too good. It was too much for me to handle at the time .
It took me a few months to finish that one, and after I finished, I did the only thing that seemed fitting: I took it to the beach with me, wrote a note inside the front cover, and buried it in the sand for someone else to find. I still have no idea who found it, but I like to imagine them having the same reaction as I did.
So back in November, when Jonathan's new book went up on Amazon, I immediately ordered it.
This book is not for the faint of heart. It's one of those books that I recommend, but I hate recommending, because it means that the person reading it likely is in the midst of their own shipwreck. Their life is coming undone. The job is gone. The marriage is over. The cancer is spreading. Whatever it may be, their ship is running aground, breaking apart, splintering, tossed about by waves bigger than they ever imagined possible.
You hope you never need a lifeboat, but when the ship is breaking apart, you are eternally grateful to have one. You hope you never need a book like Jonathan's, but when your life is crumbling around you, you will lash out and grab hold of anything that can help.
This book is one of those things.
I've read so many books by so many pastors who talk about the trials and tribulations of life. The problem is, you look at their lives, their ministries, at their huge megachurches, lucrative book deals, millions of twitter followers, and their celebrity status within the Christian subculture, and you can't help but be a little cynical about it all. Self help books are a dime a dozen, and they all pretty much follow the same pattern. They lay out a series of steps that you can take to get your life back together. To get over the hurt. To move past the divorce, or the cancer diagnosis, or the pink slip.
Do X and your life starts to turn around.
Thank God this isn't one of those books. Thank God that Jonathan decided to write out of a place of pain. After he had left the successful church plant, after the marriage had crumbled, after the smoke had faded. He doesn't claim to have all the answers.
"I am too young and inexperienced in this business of inviting God into my depths to be an expert on any of this. I do not think there is a one-size-fits-all answer as to how God will deal with the monsters within. What I do know is that all true desire has its origin in God and can open us up to God. Even if the desire gets misplaced or misappropriated, even if we attempt to fulfill the desire where it cannot be fulfilled, the desire itself, the primal energy, originates in God himself. Even the chaotic ones." -Pg. 132
This book is medicine. It is hope. It is mercy. It is grace. It is the permission to be screwed up, drowning, taking in mouthful after mouthful of water until you feel as if your lungs are giving in, only to have the hand of God scoop you out of the waters, trembling, and begin to bring you back to life.
This book is for anybody who has had their ship run aground. Who has had the wind knocked out of them, the rug pulled out from under them, and felt like they didn't have the strength to get back up. Because I think the point is, on our own strength, we can't get back up. It is only when we begin to recognize the monsters that have seemingly defeated us, that God will reach down into the despair, and begin to right the ship. Begin to reassemble the pieces, and reassemble them in a way that only he can.
If you're shipwrecked today, there is hope.
*Disclaimer: Though I was given an early copy of Jonathan's book for this review, the opinions are completely mine.*