Monday, July 16, 2012

I Am Second: Book Review

I Am Second.

Often surrounded by a worldly obsession for first place, the book title stood out like a breath of fresh air.  I knew that inside the covers of this book, I'd find people I could relate to.

Then, I read the description:

"Countless stories. One incredible ending.
A major league baseball player. a Tennessee pastor. A reality TV star. a single mom. A multi-platinum rocker. What do these people have in common? They''ve all hit bottom. And none of them stayed there.
Famous or unfamiliar, these are the stories of real people who reached the end of their strength, the end of their control, and found the most surprising truths. It taught them not to rely on self or substance but to lean on the only completely reliable source of love, hope, and freedom: the God who created them. Shocking in their honesty, inspiring in their courage, these testimonies are critical reminders that no one is too far from God to find him."

I know a thing of two about being at rock bottom.  I've ricocheted off the rock bottom several times in my life.  I have intimately known desperate times and hardships, horrific life circumstances, and been saved out of impossible situations.  I have already learned that I, too, am second, but given that I'm going through yet another rock bottom situation, I was interested in reading this book to learn from and be encouraged by the experiences of others.

The sentence that got to me?  "They've all hit rock bottom, and none of them stayed there."

I didn't want to stay here either, and thought the book was worth reading if only to reinforce what I already knew -- God won't let me stay here.

I really liked the book format, which shared story after story of successful people who had made it in life after facing what seems on the surface as insurmountable and impossible.  Some of the names in this book might surprise you... Michael W. Smith?  I had no idea.  It's a reminder that there is always more underneath the surface, that we are all broken and in need of a Savior, not just in hard times, but for a lifetime.  

These aren't "feel good stories", they're hard life lessons, hard truth, each with a common thread -- Jesus was their only way out, and Jesus was the difference in changing their situation around completely.  There is no other way to explain the power He had in their lives.  In those desperately dark places, they each reached the end of themselves, and accepted that they were second and as such, they had to rely strictly on God to get them out of the pit.

Each story finished with QR Codes for more similar stories.  I thought this was a brilliant and interactive way to include more material, which eventually led to searches, videos, etc of other I Am Second stories, blog posts, articles.

All in all, this was like hardcore Chicken Soup For The Soul, except better -- the chicken soup was the appetizer, it came second...  Jesus Himself is the main course that sustains.

Two thumbs up.  (I only have two thumbs...  otherwise I'd give it five.)

"Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Thomas Nelson".