“Sometimes it feels as if God has invited Himself into my pain, when I had hoped to be invited into His healing. We want a God who heals our wounds, but it seems we have a God who heals our hearts.”
~ Matt Bays
When I first signed up to be part of the blog tour for Matt Bays’ book Finding God in the Ruins: How God Redeems Pain, I was excited to be a part of promoting the book of an author I already loved. Two things have happened since then: I read the book and loved it even more, and, even before the official launch and blog tour could begin the book took off like wildfire, word of mouth, Matt’s message of hope in despair spreading from heart to heart, from friends to friends of friends, each person who read or even heard about it telling others: Get this book, now.
So now my time has finally come to tell you about Matt’s book, and, well, you might already know about it. It is a bestseller on Amazon, in several categories. Ann Voskamp wrote about it. (Read a excerpt from Finding God in the Ruins on New York Times bestselling author Ann Voskamp’s website: http://bit.ly/1Pa4R7C). Laura Parrot Perry wrote about it. If you search Finding God in the Ruins on Facebook or Twitter you will see post after post by people who have found this book and found hope and redemption in it.
But on the off chance that you have not heard of it, I’m honored to have the chance to share it with you. And I have a copy to give away! Keep reading for details.
Matt Bays grew up in a hell that he didn’t fully understand. His stepfather was abusive and his older brother learned to replicate that abuse. Matt grew up, got married, and went into ministry, and tried to push away those memories and keep them buried in his past. When he finally realized he couldn’t live like that anymore, and started seeing a counselor to try to articulate his pain, he began to uncover truths not only about his own life but about how broken the church can be in providing support for those who are speaking up about their struggles and their doubts.
For years I had longed for the church to be a safe place where I could reexamine my faith with fear and trembling and anger. I needed it to be a place where I could ask the tough questions — where I could expose God’s short sale on my life, on Robert’s life, on Keegan’s life, on yours. But the church wasn’t the place I’d hoped it would be.
I’m guessing my church would have given me six months to work things out rather than the six years it would take…
Matt writes honestly about getting angry with God, walking away from God, even giving God the middle finger. As he faces the memories and pain of his childhood, and the present pain of his sister’s cancer, he rages at God for not providing healing. But it is through that rage, through that honest baring his heart, that he discovers God’s presence with him in the wreckage. As the title of the book suggests, Matt finds that God doesn’t remake his life into something different. Instead, God sits with him in the ruins. Just like Frederick Buechner wrote about Job, “God is not an answer man can give, God says. God himself does not give answers. He gives himself, and into the midst of the whirlwind of his absence gives himself.”
But Matt does not stop with his own story and his own encounter with God’s absence and presence. Matt wants to free us, too, to tell our stories, to be unafraid and to trust that their is enough grace for us, whether it takes us six months to work things out or six years, or more. “Healing has no map;” Matt says:
every person’s experience is different. But if your journey is going to be successful, expect at some point to end up back at the scene of the crime, staring at the wreckage. People will tell you to move on, and they are partly right. But if you have tried and can’t seem to, you must go back and see what happened with new eyes. And then you must try to tell your story without trying to make it palatable — for anyone. You have to tell the truth — the whole truth — expecting the painful passages to come when you do. If it gets to be too much, take a break. Dog-ear the page and return to it when you’re good and ready, but plan to finish the book because there’s a beautiful ending to it.
Matt writes with the eloquence of a poet, and with the heart of a pastor. He offers us his story, and whether we relate to the specific details or not, Finding God in the Ruins makes us feel less alone.
I have a copy to give away! Just leave a comment here or on my Facebook page and I will pick one commenter at random to receive Matt’s book. *Update 3/23: soundtek won!*
On Matt’s website you can find a free sample chapter, a trailer/music video, and links to places to order the book.
You can find quotes and links from the other bloggers in the tour here.
I received a free advance copy of the book in return for my honest review.