God Has a Dream for Your Life
Author and speaker Sheila Walsh offers Christian women the chance to dream. Weaving her own story throughout, Walsh's winsomeness and self-depreciating style will win over even the most hardened, dream-forsaken Christ follower. Very skillfully she intersperses the story of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz into the opening of each chapter. She gently urges her audience to recall those earlier moments of life when their hearts were naïve and still tender enough to dream big. Then she woos readers into her confidence by presenting compelling biblical arguments for taking their hearts (and dreams) out of cold storage and allowing them to flourish once again.
Walsh describes her own introduction to Christianity as a girl and how as a young adult she tried to live up to the "perfect Christian woman" model, which eventually landed her in a psychiatric hospital for depression. Her story is gritty and utterly relatable, which will resonate with fellow Christian women as they face their own "unattainable" standards that frequently imprison and enslave them.
Walsh challenges women to dream big by first understanding their freedom and standing as children of God. She discusses the importance of learning to accept one's uniqueness and celebrating it (as God does), and also handily walks Christians through the ABC's of letting forgiveness do its perfect work in order to be fitted to receive the desires of one's heart. Likewise, Walsh provides excellent narratives from other women who have overcome shame and defeat, and are now living in peace with themselves, others and God.
Once Walsh has primed her readers from the inside out for the journey to Oz, she takes them by the hand and gently urges women to see that change is part of life and that pain is not necessarily a bad thing if it is the agent that compels inner maturation. Through disappointment, women can emerge stronger and, honed by God's grace, more holy. Walsh does an especially nice job of depicting the body of Christ as an entity where love is the unifying element, where women live out their tenets of faith through active service and acceptance of others. Jesus wanted His followers to live out His dream, which was "that we would love one another and through our love other people would know that God is alive and well."
Walsh continues to explore this theme of unifying love, further stating that Christ prayed for believers to give themselves in sacrifice for a bigger purpose knowing that only through God's enabling grace could they achieve even a small measure of success at it. And when Christians choose to love through God's grace and mercy, "a watching world pays attention." Perhaps one of the most valuable lessons she offers in this text is not merely personal transformation via learning to dream and believe God for great things; it is the vision she incites for enlarging one's borders to the benefit of a lost and waiting world.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on November 13, 2011