Walking From East to West (review)

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Walking from East to West: God in the ShadowsWalking from East to West: God in the Shadows by Ravi Zacharias

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the first time I heard Ravi Zacharias speak in our Saskatoon church (sometime in the late 1970s or early ’80s) I have been fascinated by his message and manner. His memoir, Walking from East to West: God in the Shadows, shines a light on where he came from and how he became the popular evangelist, Christian apologist and humanitarian that he is today.

In chronological order he tells the story of his unhappy childhood in India, his conversion, his move (with his family) to Canada, and his blossoming into family life and ministry.

The God in the Shadows angle is Zacharias recognizing and pointing out how God has been present in his life (though often unseen and unrecognized till much later). In fact he sees evidences of this being the case even before his existence in his great-great-grandmother’s conversion to Christianity. This is powerfully brought home to him when he finds her grave site and sees that the verse on her marker is the very one that God used to call him back to life after his suicide attempt. Throughout the book he points out many other marvelous “coincidences” that bring him to the conclusion that God has been interested in and involved in his life all along the way.

He comes across as a humble, grateful man who is still amazed at what God has done in and through him—a Chennai Indian lad who, until his conversion, was a sports-loving, directionless school goof-off.

The writing style is not as intellectually taxing as some of his more philosophical books and though the odd time a professorial word or two slips in, mostly Walking… is an easy-to-read story.

As I usually do when I read inspiring biographies and memoirs, I marked passages for future retrieval. Here are some bits I highlighted from Walking From East to West:

“God has an appointment with each of us, and it is critical that every man and woman know this. He will stop our steps when it is not our time, and He will lead us when it is” – p. 168 (Kindle Edition).

“… if you have not learned to pay the smaller prices of following Christ in your daily life, you will not be prepared to pay the ultimate price in God’s calling” – p. 199.

“Yes, logic is linear, but its implications are radial” – p. 205.

“Through all of the visitations of life—successes or failures—it is not how well you are known or not known. It is not how big your organization is or isn’t. It is not even how many sermons one has preached or books one has written or millions of dollars one has accumulated. It is how well do you know Jesus?” – p. 224.

I would recommend this book to all who have been impacted by and continue to enjoy and be challenged by the speaking and writing of Ravi Zacharias.

Walking from East to West is part of my own Kindle collection.

Ravi Zacharias’s book and speaking resources (like podcasts and recordings of his regular and weekly radio broadcasts) are available at his ministry (RZM) site.

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Eyes to See (review)

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Eyes to See by Becky Keep (with Tim Keep)It was an afterthought that prompted Becky Keep to ask the nurse practitioner to check five-week-old Jesse’s eyes. An observant grandma had commented that those baby eyes didn’t seem to be following normally. That last-minute request set the Keeps on a four-year journey that they never dreamed they’d be taking. Eyes to See: Glimpses of God in the Dark by Becky and Tim Keep is the story of that journey.

Through the book we experience the hills and valleys of their Jesse’s battle with retinoblastoma—cancer of the eyes. We ride the ups and downs of the many times the Keeps were told that the latest treatment seemed to be working only to discover that the cancer was back. We live with them through their on-again, off-again plans to return to the Philippines, where they were missionaries. But this book is much more than a riveting story. For in it we wrestle, along with Becky and Tim, with the mysteries of God’s dealings with people. Some of the things that I took from this story:

– The amazing way circumstances fell into place so that Jesse’s condition was discovered as early as it was. The chain of events was set in motion long before Jesse was even conceived.

– The goodness of God to the Keeps through family, friends and their church home, wherever it was.

– God’s way of providing an answer, e.g. a place to live, a job, often in the nick of time.

– The discussion of divine healing.

If there is one issue that people who believe that God’s healing power is available today grapple with it’s how do we explain when physical healing doesn’t happen. The Keeps went through the wringer here as people recommended a multitude of remedies, berated them for their lack of faith and scolded them for praying for healing “according to the will of God” insisting that this kind of prayer was “symptomatic of wavering faith, faith which should never expect to receive what it asks for” – p. 58.

This brought them to a realization of what seems to me the gem takeaway from the book, expressed in what Tim heard from God as he meditated on the story of Jesus who delayed coming to Bethany so that He was too late to heal His friend Lazarus (from John 11: 40):

“’My Son, I don’t want you to worry about my intentions toward Jesse or My will for your family. Nor do I want you to keep measuring your faith. What I want you to pray for right now, and the only thing I want you to pray for, is for My glory …. I want you to pray that through this difficult trial, men and women will see the embodiment of My life, My peace, My joy and My enabling grace” – P. 71.

Becky Keep tells the story with the skill of a seasoned storyteller, drawing us into their family’s life and experience through personal memories and anecdotes. There is also a section of black-and-white photos.

The story has a happy ending, or maybe I should say ‘continuation.’ Jesse appeared with his mom (along with the Collingsworth Family: Kim Collingsworth, mom of that musical clan, is Becky’s sister) at this year’s Gospel Music Celebration in Red Deer Alberta (July 13th). Jesse, now 15 years old, played to thousands, talked about his musical ambitions, and later signed copies of Eyes to See.

This is a book anyone, young or old, could read and enjoy. It would be especially meaningful for people struggling with health issues, particularly in their youngsters. It is a story of hope in God who gives the best healing of all—the healing of hearts.

Eyes to See: Glimpses of God in the Dark is available at Amazon.com

Collingsworth Family - 2013

The Collingsworth Family smile encouragement …

Jesse Keep - 2013

…as Jesse Keep plays piano. His mother, Becky Keep (author of Eyes to See) and weekend organizer Wayne Dyck look on.

Jesse Keep - 2013

Jesse Keep – up close (via the crowd monitor)

Eyes to See endorsement from Kim Collingsworth

Eyes to See endorsement from Kim Collingsworth