For Lisa Velthouse’s whole life, Christianity had been about getting things right. Obeying her parents. Not drinking. Not cursing. Not having premarital sex. Vowing to save her first kiss until she got engaged, even writing a book called . . . well, Saving My First Kiss. (This, it turns out, does not actually help a girl get a date.) Yet after two decades of trying to earn God’s okay, she found her faith was lonely, empty, and unsatisfying. So she turned to more discipline, of course: fasting! By giving up her favorite foods—sweets—Lisa hoped to somehow discover true sweetness and meaning in her relationship with God. Until, one night at a wedding, she denied herself the cake but failed in such a different, unexpected, and world-rocking way that it challenged everything she thought she knew about God and herself. Craving Grace is the true story of a faith dramatically changed: how in one woman’s life God used a bitter heart, a broken promise, and the sweetness of honey to reveal the stunning wonder that is grace.
What is grace?
The Sunday School definition is undeserved favor.
Or God’s Richness at Christ’s Expense.
Those are both okay definitions, but you can understand those definitions and still not fully grasp God’s grace. Actually, I’m not sure we can ever fully grasp God’s grace.
Lisa Velthouse thought she had to earn God’s favor. I did too. So I felt a certain kinship with her as I was reading the book. Unlike the author’s, my testimony is not one of thinking I had done almost everything right, and that God was not giving me what I deserved. My struggle was with truly accepting God’s forgiveness for my sins. We both had a false view of God’s grace. The peace of realizing that there is nothing that I can do to earn His forgiveness is freeing. I finally understand that my salvation doesn’t depend on my ability to say the right words in a prayer or my ability to not sin, but on Christ’s atoning sacrifice that completely and totally paid for my sins. He’s the one that’s doing the saving. He’s powerful enough. What a relief! What a wonderful Savior!
I enjoyed reading this book. The author was transparent in sharing her struggles. I liked the way she told the story by going back and forth between two different periods of her life. However, it might be confusing to someone who is extremely sequential.
But I can’t neglect to mention one concern I did have about this book. The author previously served on the staff at Mars Hill Bible Church. That wouldn’t have meant a thing to me until about a month ago. However, the founding pastor of that church, Rob Bell, just published an extremely controversial book entitled Love Wins. I have not read the book, but it has been accused of espousing the universalist view that a loving God wouldn’t send anyone to hell. So I read Craving Grace looking for any evidence that Lisa Velthouse believes that. I didn’t find any. But I didn’t find any evidence that she isn’t a universalist either. However, it’s not a theology book. Craving Grace is a memoir, and it does what a memoir should–tells the story of a life.
***The author has contacted me and assured me she is most certainly NOT a universalist. ****
This is the 13th book I have completed in 2011. This is week 18 of the 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge. I’m 5 books behind!