When Camp Makes A Difference All Year Long
Tables in the Wilderness - A Book Review

A Beautiful Disaster - A Book Review

 I received a copy of "A Beautiful Disaster: Finding Hope in the Midst of Brokenness," written by Marlena Graves, from NetGalley for the purpose of generating a review. Italicized quotes are from the book. The opinions expressed here are my own.


To live strong in our faith today, we must figure out what to do with our yesterdays. For author, Marlena Grave, many elements of her childhood were desert experiences. Growing up impoverished and responsible for much of the parenting in the home, Marlena had to grow up rather quickly. In order to survive.


“In my own life, corruption and adult concerns entered into my psyche too early, eclipsing any experience of an age of innocence. I had to leave childish things behind before I even had the chance to be childish.”


Of course, the desert times didn’t stop when childhood did. In didactic prose, Marlena shares with her readers other desert experiences in her adult life. In her family, among friends and in her career.


“God often begins this great work of making us more loving in the wilderness - amid difficulty. Until then, we are generally unaware of the work that needs to be done in our hearts.”


Through her faith in Jesus Christ, Marlena has chosen to let her Redeemer reclaim and restore every part of her story. Not so she can relive it and suffer through it time and again. But to use it for His glory.


How does He use the author's past for His glory? Here are a few ways; 1) The thirst it gave her for a Heavenly Father 2) The love she developed for His Word, where she read repeatedly that she was not alone and God loved her 3) The message she shares today with all of us who have a past.


“God uses the desert of the soul - our suffering and difficulties, our pain, our dark nights (call them what you will) - to form us, to make us beautiful souls.”


More like Jesus.


Let’s look at the results of our Redeemer’s work in our suffering one at a time:

1) The thirst it gives us for a Heavenly Father.

“When we routinely immerse ourselves in life-giving quiet that we might sense the presence and guidance of God, he comes and makes his home with us.”


“The wilderness opens our eyes to the intrinsic value of Christ’s body by stripping us of our independence. It shows us how dependent we re on the gifts and graces of God.”


2) The love we develop for His Word, where we read repeatedly that we are not alone and God loves us.

“In fifth through seventh grades, after my chores, I’d often cloister myself in my closet of a room in our flimsy-walled, green trailer in the hills of Northwest Pennsylvania for up to three hours a day to read the Bible.”


“And so my little closet room in the green trailer served as my first monastic cell.”


3) The message the author shares with all of us who have a past. 

That’s all of us, you know. 


“It is we who must learn to receive God’s gifts. Only a soul wide awake, a heart tenderized through suffering and sacrifice while in communion with God, learns to receive with gratitude.”


Marlena does a beautiful job of weaving her own story in with the written tradition of our Christian brothers and sisters and also among Scriptural teaching. 


The author’s words in this book give such hope. No matter what your past looks like, or how you are currently suffering, God works in our disasters. 


“The wait is where we become more well-fitted to the person God is making us to be. And the more we are what we were meant to be, the more beautiful we become.”


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