Monday, July 1, 2013

Book Review [What Women Fear]

What Women Fear
{Walking in Faith That Transforms}
Angie Smith

Rear cover:
From a Challenge of Faith to A Means of Transformation

Did God really say you couldn't eat from any tree in the garden?  This seed of doubt planted so long ago still bears the fruit of fear on some level every day -- the idea that our actions could ruin something beautiful and God might not have control over things. 

In What Women Fear acclaimed writer and speaker Angie Smith admits, "Fear is a major part of my testimony" as she talks openly about significant struggles she has experienced.  Giving a voice to the problem, she says, "I truly believe every single one of us struggles with some type of fear, whether it's fear of flying or fear of being 'found out.'  Maybe you don't worry about dying, but you get sick thinking about the fact that you might fail."

Instead of suggesting that those who love the Lord would never fear, Angie blends her own experiences with those of men and women throughout Scripture to help us start dealing more effectively with these true, human emotions.

Whether it's a constant What if? type of worry, being afraid of abandonment or betrayal, fear of trusting God's plan, or many others encountered in the rhythm of our daily lives, Angie walks you through stories of others who have simultaneously loved God and struggled with faith.  Journey with her as she explores the difficult and life-giving questions God asked of those who walked a similar road.  Discover how to redeem this struggle as only God can -- that He will be glorified, and you will be transformed.

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Mrs. Smith, wife of Selah's Todd Smith, does a beautiful job of analyzing the common fears we face each and every day:

Fear of the "What If . . . "
Fear of Rejection, Abandonment, and Betrayal
Fear of Being Found Out
Fear of Failure
Fear of Death
Fear of My Past Catching Up to Me
Fear of Not Being Significant
Fear of God's Plan for My Life
Fear That God Isn't Real
Fear of God

Throughout these pages, you read of her testimony, struggles, and lessons that she herself has experienced and discover that we are not alone in these fears.  All throughout Scripture God has given us examples of both men and women who have gone through, and overcome, Fear.

In Chapter 2: Foundations of the World, the author reviews the story of Job and Hagar, as well as that of Jacob and his wives as they, especially Leah, experience the Fear of Rejection, Abandonment, and Betrayal.  I believe my most favorite illustration that Mrs. Smith used is the story of Leah, Rachel, and Jacob in the Book of Genesis.

Leah, eldest daughter of Laban, was unattractive, unloved, and usually forgotten.  The Bible mentions she had "ordinary eyes," meaning tender, delicate, or frail.  It is possible she may have been cross-eyed.  On the other hand, her younger sister Rachel was quite the opposite, beautiful is face and form, the favorite of their father and later, their husband.  It is saddening to discover both men didn't even try to hide the fact Rachel was loved more highly than her plain sister.  

We know the story, right?  Jacob meets Rachel at the well and seeks her father Laban to ask for her hand in marriage.  Laban agrees wholeheartedly and a deal is struck for Jacob to work seven years to acquire his bride.  The wedding day finally comes.  On the wedding night, however, Laban gives his eldest daughter to Jacob instead.  Jacob then has to work for Laban another seven years for Rachel.  He does and it is evident of his love for her.  

Leah is forgotten once again.  And we see her struggling to be accepted by her husband.  The Lord grants her six sons; and we see, by her names of each, she has a change in perspective.  To her firstborn, she gives the name Reuben, meaning "see, a son," hoping that with this baby boy, her husband will love her. (Genesis 29:32)  To her second, she names Simeon, meaning "one who hears," saying, "The Lord heard that I am unloved and has given me this son also." (Genesis 29:33) Her third son bears the name Levi, meaning "attached," hoping perhaps now that she has given to Jacob three sons, he will at last become attached to her. (Gen. 29:34)  It isn't until the fourth son, whom she names Judah, meaning "praise," that we see Leah's surrender and acceptance that Jacob will not love her.  At this point, she stops trying to earn the love of her husband and gives thanks to God (Gen. 29:35).  Mrs. Smith says this of her:

"So not only was she no longer trying to win over Jacob, but she was expressing gratitude to the Lord for her newest child.  Quite a shift in perspective, isn't it?  She made the conscious decision to stop trying to please man and pursue what she desired in favor of praising God for blessing her with children.  In a sense, she surrendered her will for her life, accepting her husband's rejection." (pgs. 40)

Wow.  I had never though of her that way. 

Leah is a beautiful example of striving to please God rather than man.  We have a promise of relationship with Christ -- one where He will never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

Why should we fear rejection, abandonment?  Failure?  Death?  

Anything?

I could go on and on about the various men and women mentioned in this book.  For the sake of time, I will attempt to conclude at this:  a Fear of God.  

In the final chapter of her book, Mrs. Smith confronts the subject of a healthy fear of God.  Sure, she means fear as in a reverence and jaw-dropping awe of Him, but she also defines this as a "Fear of God in the way that makes your knees bend and your heart race..." (pgs. 174)  

"The bigger He is to me, the smaller I must become.  My favorite place to be is in the Hand of the God that whispers, 'That's far enough, love.'" 
(pgs. 171)

"What is the evidence of fear?  Obedience.
"What is the benefit of our obedience?  Wisdom."  (pgs. 173)

We should have a fear of God in a way that terrifies us.  He is the Almighty, Ever-Present, Judging God, and in our disobedience, we should tremble in fear of what He deems as a worthy punishment.  Do you agree?

In my opinion, the following statement sums it up quite well:
"The more I fear God, the less I fear everything else... I believe that true peace and true healing come from wisdom.  Which comes from obedience.  Which comes from, you guessed it, fear of the Lord." (pgs. 174)

In conclusion, I will leave you with this quote from Mike Yaconelli:

"I would like to suggest that the Church become a place of terror again; a place where God continually has to tell us, 'Fear not'; a place where our relationship with God is not a simple belief or doctrine or theology; it is God's burning presence in our lives.  I am suggesting that the tame God of relevance be replaced by the God whose very presence shatters our egos into dust, burns our sin into ashes, and strips us naked to reveal the real person within.  The Church needs to become a gloriously dangerous place where nothing is safe in God's presence except us.  Nothing -- including our plans, our agendas, our priorities, our politics, our money, our security, our comfort, our possessions, our needs . . . Our world is tired of people whose God is tame.  It is longing to see people whose God is big and holy and frightening and gentle and tender . . . and ours; a God whose love frightens us into His strong and powerful arms where He longs to whisper those terrifying words, 'I love you.' 

I give this book:

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