I love to read, and I read a lot. But this past spring I read a book that shook my heart and brought me to my knees in tears....that doesn't happen to me very often.
The book was Confessions of a Transformed Heart by Nancy Sheppard. Nancy and her husband traveled to Liberia in the 1980s to work as missionaries. The book follows their missionary journey through war, hardship, celebration, and grief. Her words are simple, but her message and humility is profound.
While I could write an essay about my thoughts on this book, I'll leave you with the 3 areas this book most specifically challenged me in:
1. My Relationship with God
From the first chapter I was struck by Nancy's passion for our Savior, but even more so I was struck by her obedience and quest for improvement. Several times Nancy wrote about God calling her out on ____ or her need to improve on ____, and her subsequent journey in obeying God's call. I am not so good in this area. First, I often feel as though I act and then seek God's direction. Secondly, if I do feel God speaking to me, I often shy away from requests that make me uncomfortable.
While reading a certain portion of this book I felt immensely convicted about my actions and attitude towards 2 individuals. As awkward and uncomfortable as it was, I apologized. While I was immensely touched by the grace and forgiveness of these two ladies, I was even more overwhelmed by the pure joy I felt from obedience.
Nancy's continuous strive for improvement in her walk with Christ and life as a Christian was also inspiration. Not only would she seek out character traits to work on, but she went about such work with vigor and diligence. Far too often I find myself falling into a place of complacency - not examining where I need to improve or ignoring what I know needs to be changed.
2. My Relationship with my Husband
I've only been married for 5.5 months, but Brandon and I are already on the cusp of making some pretty significant decisions about our future - particularly where we will be living come this fall. There is a pretty profound point in the book where Nancy is dreading returning to the mission field. Due to civil war, her life in Africa and work on the mission field has become extremely uncomfortable and emotionally and physically draining - and she is ready not to return. At this point her husband tells her that if it is that she cannot return, they won't, but if it is that she simply does not want to return, they will head back to Africa.
It would have been easy for Nancy to say she couldn't. But she didn't, and the joy she talks about afterwards that came from following God's will and submitting to her husband's leadership is so powerful (and beautiful!).
At this point in my reading, the tears were flowing. I love my husband, but while my mouth was saying that I would follow him to the ends of the Earth, my attitude was screaming that I wanted to stay put! God has blessed me with an amazing husband, and he used this book to open my eyes towards and area where I was not respecting him or trusting his decisions. The conversations B and I have had over the last 2 months have been amazing.
3. My Relationship with the Things I Value
Nancy herself sums up my favorite final takeaway in an interview she gave with SharperIron. When asked what she hopes readers take away from her book she states:
"One by one God took away the many "idols" I was worshiping - security, friendship, affirmation, ministry, comfort, control, etc. etc. etc. All I had left was Christ. I believe he did so for a grand purpose. He wanted me to know-and tell others-that He is enough. If you lose everything, God is enough."
Have a summer reading list? Even if you don't, you should start one - with Confessions of a Transformed Heart at the top.