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The God I Love: A Lifetime of Walking with Jesus

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Inspirio

Bestselling author Joni Eareckson Tada shares her personal insights on life, love, and spirituality. With profound honesty and emotion, Tada shares the story of an accident that paralyzed her physically, and how that started her on a powerful, deeply … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Religion
Author: Inspirio
Genre: Religion
Publisher: Running Pr Book Pub
Date Published: April 27, 2004
1 review about The God I Love: A Lifetime of Walking with...

Elaborate Expositions, Joyous Journeys: Toward Love, Peace, and Pure Rejoicing

  • Apr 24, 2008
Rating:
+5
Pros: One of the best books that I have ever read aside from the Bible.

Cons: Cons? Excuse me? That word is the direct antithesis of this book.

The Bottom Line: This is an excellent Christian devotional, an inspiring autobiography, and a truly masterful piece of writing. If you seek any of the above, I cannot recommend this work more highly.

THE UNCANNONIZED OEUVRE

It was a brown-paper-parcel day in June, 2005. Aside from plans to go camping, nothing had taken place to enliven the mundane facts of meal preparation, humanities assignments, and doing laundry. The drab hours instantly changed to joyful days, however, when my father returned from the Christian ministry where he works. In his hand was a package and a cryptic letter from Joni Eareckson Tada, founder of a ministry whose mission is to provide people with disabilities with hope and joy. Joni had written to send her warmest encouragement, having heard of my visual impairment and medical condition through my father. Apparently, she had been told of me when they were at a “religious broadcaster’s convention”. This sounds quite sensible, does it not? Unless, of course, you consider the fact that my father had never been to a broadcaster’s convention of any kind.

I can only conclude that this missive and its accompanying package were the Lord’s doing. The package contained an audio recording of THE GOD I LOVE—Joni’s most recent work. Although it shall likely never join the ranks of Stowe and Bunyan in the literary cannon, it is magnificent in every way. Immediately upon receiving the book, I found myself in awe, marveling that such a blessing had been bestowed upon me. Except for the lack of Braille on each cassette, the book seemed to have been written directly to me in Joni’s unique, conversational style. I was overjoyed. It was mine, this masterpiece—mine to analyze; mine to use as a devotional tool; mine to rejoice in, and mine to weep over; above all, mine to cherish word by wonderful word!

AT THE POOL OF BETHESDA

Upon inserting the first beautiful cassette into an old, worn cassette player, I was introduced to adventure and art, majesty and melody. Throughout several lovely chapters, Joni Eareckson discusses the comfort and exhilaration that, together, enveloped her childhood. The first chapter is a perfectly-captured image of Rehoboth Beach and the peaceful yet majestic experiences that the Eareckson family enjoyed there. As five-year-old Joni and her sisters ate fresh oysters around a roaring campfire, their father regaled them with tales of the Flying Dutchman—tall tales that only a former sailor could relate. Afterward, the family sang lightsome songs of the sea and courtly love. These ultimately turned to hymns; as the Earecksons sang verse after verse, Joni was embraced by love and overcome with the majesty of her surroundings: the intricacies of a discovered crab, the vastness of the sky and ocean, the inexplicable greatness of the world. Surely, Someone greater than her own father had created these wonders. The chapter closes with magnificent allusions to a particularly influential hymn—“Let the Lower Lights Be Burning”.

No, dear reader, I shall not continue by describing every chapter. I would rather leave you restlessly pacing about the room, wondering when you might rush to the nearest bookstore to obtain your own copy of THE GOD I LOVE. In fact, I would rather leave you on Ebay, frantically paying $300 for the only audio copy available and requesting that the book be shipped by FedEx. However, that is a decision that you shall have to make; my job is to attempt to persuade you, with all the linguistic power I possess. Let us get on with the summary, then, shall we?

Joni’s young existence was characterized by experiences that her conventional friends could not possibly comprehend. Each weekend, she and her sisters rode majestic horses on beautifully rugged trails. Under their father’s direction, they learned the difference between oak and maple trees, the names of constellations, and the names of various Maryland fowl. Join’s crowning delight, however, was a trip to her uncle’s Colorado ranch, where she was able to put her riding skills to work while viewing the glorious mountains comprising that state’s landscape.

And the painting. Joni’s writing makes it clear that her childhood would have been lacking were it not for artistic ventures. Surely, her existence would have lacked the sheer contentment of filial affection if, one night at the age of seven, she had not been lifted onto the knee of her generally undemonstrative father, given a paint brush, and taught the fundamentals of effective painting. Her father’s artistic abilities; her father’s riding lessons; her father’s irrepressible sense of adventure and courage; her father’s tall tales, rendered in a joyous Irish brogue; her father’s favorite hymn, “Let the Lower Lights be Burning”—these factors shaped Joni’s life during elementary school. Certainly, the piano lessons, ballet, and tennis playing that Joni’s mother introduced were appreciated; yet, Joni seemed to view her father as a more captivating, awesome figure.

As elementary school melted into severe middle and high-school instruction, painting and piano were supplanted by an overwhelming emptiness. Gradually, Joni realized that her father no longer knew how to fill the void in her life, as his experience with teenage girls was limited. Where, then, was the center? Certainly, it did not lie with transient friends or uninspiring extracurricular activities. Joni suggests that she found the significance of life while at a Christian camp. The majesty that she had vaguely known, the love that she saw in others, and longing that she had experienced—all of these were filled by her newly-acquired relationship with God.

All was not exquisite, however. In the profound belief that she was not growing quickly in the Christian faith, Joni prayed that God might alter her perspective and draw her truly close to Himself. Many are familiar with Joni’s apparently-tragic diving accident, so I do not believe that a brief relation thereof would be too revealing. Just a few weeks after graduating from high school, Joni dove into shallow waters and broke her neck; the crisis left her paralyzed and understandably depressed. During this period, Joni questioned everything that she had ever known about God; wondered whether Jesus might heal her once she had learned her lesson, so to speak; and, as she puts it, rebelled against faith and joy by painting all art projects black during occupational therapy.

Throughout her sojourn in the wilderness of doubt, Joni examined a passage of the Bible that dealt with Jesus’ ministry at a pool in Jerusalem known as Bethesda. Found in John Chapter 5, the passage told of a man who had been ill for thirty-eight years and whom Jesus healed near that pool. Each day, Joni imagined herself at the pool of Bethesda and continually asked God to heal her, but to no avail. A series of Bible studies, the support of deeply-devoted friends and loving sisters, and the majestic scenery that Joni viewed during the family’s consistent journeys into nature ultimately healed her heart.

Subsequent chapters are far too magnificent for my modest mental faculties to possibly express. Suffice it to say that Joni eventually participated in the filming of her own life, founded Joni and Friends Ministries, and traveled throughout the world in order to bring wheelchairs and other medical equipment to children in developing countries. Her marriage to Ken Tada provided immeasurable joy in what might ordinarily be drab, “brown-paper parcel” moments.

And what, you ask, of the pool of Bethesda? Why would Joni be initially drawn to the passage if Jesus did not actually heal her body? That, dear reader, I shall leave for you to discover. This chapter, along with other sections that deal directly with Joni’s relationship to God, are written in such a personal style that I would do Joni an injustice to express them. Suffice it to say that Joni relates several beautiful experiences in the faith; the latter half of the book is, in essence, a deep and intimate testimony. The book is a tale of the God Joni loves, the God Nicole Brunswycke loves, the God, in fact, who is so worthy of love and praise; that notion is expressed in Joni’s work through magnificent metaphors, wonderful wording, and extraordinary elegance that is well suited to her elaborate subject.

THE MELANGE OF MELODIES AND METAPHORS

Of much controversy is the notion of audio material. Is it appropriate to listen to audio books, or ought one to rely on the printed word only? For all other needs, dear reader, carry as many print books as you briefcase, satchel, or purse will hold. Turn pages in taxis, fill your every thought with letter after letter, and allow the resulting words to touch your inmost being. But, dear reader, I do implore you to make one exception. This book cannot simply be purchased in print, turned this way and that, subjected to stains from an ill-placed cup of coffee, and left to mildew on a basement shelf. No, a print copy will not do this masterpiece justice. Rather, it is imperative that you purchase THE GOD I LOVE on audio cassette or on CD.

Each of the nine audio cassettes is narrated by Joni Eareckson. Her soothing voice perfectly conveys each emotion so aptly expressed throughout the text. When writing of her joy upon discovering a relationship with Jesus Christ, her tone relates inexpressible joy that impersonal, printed words cannot. Every ounce of laughter, every note of longing, every tear, every awesome scene, are related through tone alone. Listening to this book is similar to enjoying a gentle, personal conversation with Joni. Yes, to me, she shall always be Joni—not the sterile Mrs. Tada or Ms. Eareckson.

Whether driving through Colorado while belting out “America the Beautiful” or lying in a hospital bed whispering the words to “Hallelujah, What a Savior”, Joni’s life has been shaped by hymns and other beautiful songs. And what do you suppose that Joni does when she reaches a hymn in that impersonal text? Why, she sings them, of course! Each gliding note bears witness to Joni’s pleasure in “The Old Rugged Cross”, “Rock of Ages”, and even Sunday school favorites such as “Jesus Loves Me and Climb Sunshine Mountain”. I only wish that the text had included more songs, so that Joni might sing them in the audio version! Her voice is beautiful in every respect; now, if only I had the technological ability to put Joni’s songs on CD and transfer those portions of the book to my MP3 player! As it is, I frequently sing with Joni during times of worship.

With accents, too, Joni is quite talented. Throughout the text, she is perfectly able to capture her father’s Irish brogue, an Eastern European dialect, and even a bit of an English accent. Hurray for foreign language simulations!

Each chapter opens with a brief Scripture quotation pertaining to that section’s content. The texts are primarily from Psalms, Proverbs, and Isaiah; however, occasional New Testament Scriptures are also cited. Each lovely text is narrated by Joni’s husband, Ken Tada. Hmm. Ken Tada—cantata. Does that express how I feel about Ken’s narration of God’s word, about Joni’s narration of God’s love, about the exquisite nature of each hymn? Does that express, in any meager way, the notion that “The God I Love” is the literary equivalent of a musical masterpiece?

Mind you, dear reader, I have spoiled nothing. The audio version of this work contains yet more treasures than I have here expressed. I urge you to purchase this work and experience the auditory delight of this perfect narration for yourself.

A FOURTH LITERARY WORK!

If you are familiar with my reviews, you know that only three books have ever qualified as literature. If not, you must learn: the Bible, THE PILGRIM’S PROGRESS, and UNCLE TOM’S CABIN are the only titles worthy of that designation. Yet, THE GOD I LOVE is slowly making its way into my heart, begging to be allowed into my selective literary cannon. I only wish that I could convince others that this book’s elaborate scenes, profound message, lavish vocabulary, and magnificent metaphors render it literary enough to be taught universally!

Why on earth am I so drawn to this particular publication? I cannot adequately express the answer. Is it Joni’s beautiful style of writing? Is it her pure joy, her lovely voice, her ability to sing eloquent hymns? Is it her ability to set scenes effectively? Is it, perhaps, her intense relationship with God that renders this work one of the few that I consistently return to? Or is it the fact that I ultimately hope to write a similar work—a testimony describing my love for God and His people? Is it that I attempt to model Joni’s style in my own writing, and that I admire this remarkable woman who defines herself by her joy rather than by her disability? I cannot answer; perhaps you can surmise.

I know only that this is an exquisite work. Like children’s books, however, this book must be read correctly. Just as children’s books require both text and illustrations for full comprehension, THE GOD I LOVE must be enjoyed in an audio format, for the narration and the text are inseparable. Now, please heed my advice: forsake this review, go to your favorite online store, and purchase five copies of this book—one for yourself, two for friends, and two to leave on tables at cafes. One might hope that those errant copies will find a home in others’ CD or cassette players. We must circulate this book!

Many thanks to Panguich for adding this book to the database. Few other reviews have been as enjoyable to write.


Recommended:
Yes

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