Tuesday, February 21, 2017

WHAT DOES GOD LOOK LIKE?

Welcome to southeast Michigan and the small town of Carlson where faith, hope, and struggle are defined by the different faces of those who live there.

An addict that sits at a bar to forget.

A mother whose five-year-old boy has leukemia.

Two doctors. An atheist haunted by his past and a brilliant young oncologist that places all her hope in the power of modern medicine.

A blind pastor whose son hasn't spoken a single word in thirty-eight years. 

But the minister sees by faith. He knows there are answers and believes that someone who cares is watching... someone with a greater purpose. Yet there is something he doesn't know... that none of them know.

In the midst of the ordinary and the devastating, there is a reason these lives will be changed forever.

Lightning is about to strike.

The Reason opens with a thunderbolt and never lets up as it introduces us to everyday characters who are wrestling with questions: Where is God when bad things happen? Does God ignore the prayers of the faithful? The answer each character receives will astound readers while offering an unforgettable call to hope, to change, and to believe.

Available on Amazon and other retail locations

My Take:
While reading this book, I was hooked from the first chapter. William Sirls sure knows how to tell a story!
I fell in love with the characters in the book, felt like part of the community as I read, and wanted more!

This book reminded me of the movie, The Encounter, and also the novel, The Shack. It involves several main characters including two doctors, a nurse, a pastor, his wife and son, along with a young woman and her five year old son.  Some of these characters believe in God and attend church, others are more skeptical and possibly even atheistic. Each of them has a story, and behind the story the reason for what they believe. It's a story about mistakes made, understanding God, fear, anger, disbelief, and faith. If you have every questioned your faith or the reason why things happen, this book empathizes with those questions. 

The story begins with a local church, whose cross is damaged when lightning hits. A crew of people led by a doctor, get together with the a carpenter to repair the cross. Oddly when he shows up, things seem to happen - unexplainable things. Miracles maybe? No one can quite put their finger on it, but he seems to just know things. Each person in the story is affected differently by his presence. Each person is uniquely drawn to the cross by their own set of circumstances. Ultimately the cross changes lives. 

I enjoyed the story line and how it all played out, although, it didn't end the way I expected it to. It was thought provoking and intense at times. The answer to the "reason" wasn't what I thought it would be, but it all made perfect sense in the end. When we "only believe", a phrase used often in this book, things may not turn out the way we think, or God's way of doing things may be different than ours, but ultimately, He knows best, and has our best interest at heart. The author did a great job of encouraging complete surrender, trust, and obedience to God in-spite of the outcome. 

I would recommend this book and be thrilled to read another by this author. His personal story is also very moving and interesting. I was blessed with a free copy of this book by the author and bookfun.org to read. I was not asked to review it positively and all opinions are my own. 

More about William Sirls:
Born on April 3, 1964 in Detroit, Michigan, to a construction worker and a homemaker, William Sirls grew up as the youngest of six children. Active in both sports and imagination, he aspired primarily to become either a professional golfer or attorney. Realizing he didn’t have the talent or the grades for those careers, he shifted gears and went in another direction.
Over the course of his life, he has experienced both great highs and tremendous lows— some born of chance, some born of choice. Years before the publication of his first novel, he worked 60 hour weeks as a senior vice president at one of the nation’s largest investment firms, somehow finding time to read three to four books per week and to rough out ideas for different stories of his own.
In early 2004, while visiting his oldest daughter at a Detroit hospital, he came across a young cancer patient that was being pulled in a little red wagon by his parents. At the time, Sirls had no idea that he was looking at three characters that would appear more than eight years later in The Reason.
He was incarcerated in 2007 for wire fraud and money laundering. While in prison, Sirls learned a great deal more than he ever bargained for.
Life lessons involving faith, grace, patience, and forgiveness are evident in The Reason.
He is the father of two and makes his home in southern Michigan.
“Prison is one of those things I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but at the same time there are few things I would trade that experience for … From a spiritual standpoint, it gave me the opportunity to slow down and realize what is important. As my faith grew, I became anxious to share the things I learned, so I figured what better way to do that than to rewrite my manuscript in a way that was a lot less magical and a lot more spiritual.”
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