I was recently given the opportunity to be a part of a book launch. This was something totally new to me, and it has been fun to see a little of what it takes to get a book off the ground. I must confess to some feelings of apprehension though. I knew that, while book reviews aren’t really what I do here on this blog, I would feel compelled to at least mention the release of this book as part of its launch team.
But what if the book was a real stinker? Anyone can self-publish these days, but that doesn’t make them all good writers. What if it was only so-so? What if it had no impact on me whatsoever? I wanted to be able to, in all good conscience, give a positive yet honest review. In spite of my reservations, I accepted the challenge.
I was sent a copy of the book via email. My mission was to read the book, point out any copy errors, and give some honest feedback to the author. I opened it on my iPad, settled into bed, and began to read. I was captivated.
Teresa Shields Parker’s memoir, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds And Stopped Trying To Earn God’s Favor, is an engaging story of one woman’s journey from ‘super morbid obesity’ to a life of physical and spiritual health. Written in an enjoyable conversational style, Teresa’s story chronicles her weight loss struggles, how it began, how it affected her entire life, and ultimately how she found freedom through embracing God’s grace. You can find her book on Amazon here, or directly from her website here.
I found Teresa’s story fascinating. This window into the life of extreme obesity is eye-opening and, for any of us who are also addicted to sweets, quite sobering as well. I had never heard of sugar sensitivity before, and found that information quite interesting. However, I found the spiritual journey that she shares to be the most thought-provoking part of the book.
“The main purpose of grace is not for me to spend cheaply, squandering it on my wants and desires. Grace is for me to employ to accomplish the kingdom of God on the earth. That gives my life meaning and purpose. It makes me want to follow His ways all my life.” (Teresa Shields Parker)
This passage in particular really got me to thinking. I know I cannot earn God’s grace. It is entirely undeserved and unmerited. It is mine to make use of freely. But when I worship the idols of lust, gluttony, greed, laziness, anger, envy or pride then grace ceases to flow. I find myself trying to earn God’s favor and, in so doing, end up with a cheap man-made imitation of God’s blessing. Then all I have to offer others is this facsimile of God’s power while I am left drained and empty. My impact for His glory becomes negligible.
I was made by our Creator God for a purpose. I am seriously rethinking how my ‘secret’ sins are impacting my ability to do the work my Lord has laid out for me. I am trying to see with clarity whether I am allowing His Spirit to fill me and flow through me, or if I am vainly working under my own power. All too often, I must confess that the latter is true. I get so busy ‘doing’, that I forget to simply sit at Jesus’ feet and soak in His presence.
So, my friends, “…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1b, NLT)