Eyes fasten on the face of a man who reignited my passion for God’s love in my life. Who gave me a deeper thirst for the Word than I’d yet to experience.
I take care not to move, for fear noise will distract from the beautiful unfolding of pretense and barriers. My breath waits for syllables’ pause. I am connected to what this man, my teacher for 8 years, stands brave and bold enough to share with us – his members – fellow limbs in the Body of merciful peace.
It’s a Sunday night. I, in my seat. Surrounded by those united in love and support. He, a man after God’s very heart, stands before us, letting the formalities peel away and laying bare the power of our Savior. Tom Nelson, my pastor at Denton Bible Church, lets us in.
And now (over four years later) with the honest, gripping and knowledgable joining of Steve Leavitt, Tom’s story (as well as Steve’s) is surrendered on page for all eyes to read, all ears to hear, all hearts to embrace.
Walking on Water When you Feel Like You’re Drowning is a collaborative effort of vulnerability, truth, openness and frankness, reliving broken seasons, dark valleys, and the ascent to healing and understood hope. The pages alternate perspectives switching from Tommy’s story of sudden physical limitations and an ultimate diagnosis of clinical depression to Steve’s long-term battle with crippling anxiety, overwhelming fear, and devastating loss. Each view highlighting journeys deep, authentic and heavy – yet not dissociative nor new to our fallen humanity’s constant struggle.
I chose this book to review because of my deep-rooted, personal tie to Denton Bible Church and its senior pastor Tom Nelson. I attended his church for 8 years, and I am forever changed by the voracious appetite I discovered in learning more of God’s Word. I have said countless times when speaking of Tom that he could preach on one verse and captivate the congregation for hours. Humor, wit, understanding of mysteries, and a true passion for Scripture are just a few of the qualities God gifted this man with. Qualities that drew me to the doors of this church as a freshman in college, in a new town. Qualities that bade me stay for the 8 years I lived in Denton, TX. I count myself rich beyond measure for my time of learning there.
When I opened the pages of the book, I though I would know a bit of what to expect. A timeline I remember quite well, for the events discussed by Tom took place while I was a part of the church. Yet the inclusion of Steve Leavitt and his stunning insight into the topic of life’s darkest moment jarred me…glued me to the pages evermore. Steve bares his soul as unabashedly as Tommy. Leaving no corner hidden in his journey to peace and contentment in God. These men proclaim their humanity, their flaws – because boasting in their weakness is magnifying God’s strength and goodness.
These men waste no time in declaring that we are all fallen. We all experience struggles. There is nothing weak about identifying our hardships and walking the path towards healing is brave and vital.
I will not hesitate one moment in sharing this book with those who are struggling with anxiety, depression, obsessive tendencies, or who are existing through their days confused as to what may be swirling around in their lives. There is so much we don’t understand even about ourselves, that we often need the wisdom of others to help us in our discoveries, our understanding of truth, and our search for navigating the valleys to conquer the heights.
You can relate to these voices. Trust their wisdom. For they have been there. They have come through to the other side. Steve repeats the promise that “you can get better”. There are some common platitudes throughout the chapters, but the reader can still see sincerity behind the often-heard phrases. And more importantly, Steve (a licensed counselor) backs them up with biblical truth and year’s of experience helping others heal.
I do more than recommend this book. I implore you to read it. To give it to a loved one. To keep it close by. You will grow in the end. You will gain new arsenal against the darkness and lies with each turn of the page. You will finally be able to rest in the truth that you are not alone. There is hope. You are rescued from the life you wish you could change. This book shows you how to take that knowledge and own your true identity – your true freedom.
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*I received a complimentary copy of this book through Tyndale Publishing House for purpose of review.
* Check out the “Partnership” page for more information on book reviews and collaborations
**Visit Denton Bible. You will find a home there. To learn more about them, or about Tom Nelson, visit the website anytime.
**For more on Steve Leavitt, head to his wonderful Hope for Life Ministry page and discover ways to bring hope to healing, listen to broadcasts, and gain more information.