Debut author Sherri Gragg encourages readers to "linger in the Savior's presence" in her new release Arms Open Wide, where she portrays the "beautiful Jewish roots of her Christian faith." She discovered that Jewish reality in the course of her trip to Israel where she learned to view "Jesus' teachings through a Middle Eastern cultural lens." It's there she found Jesus the Messiah to be the "incarnation of God Himself."
Yet that isn't how she always knew Jesus, even though, at age four, she "padded barefoot down the hall to her parents' bedroom" and asked to give her heart to Christ. She never saw God as a loving Father, instead she saw Him as a vengeful, "harsh judge" due to a powerful Sunday school lesson by a well-intentioned teacher.
It wasn't until her trip to Israel at age forty-one that "scriptures started to come to life for her" and she could see the "infancy of her faith" was founded on a "flawed" view of God. It was there she realized that "Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever," like Hebrews 13:8 says. There she found the loving God who created the universe and "poured out His life," not just for her, but for all of humanity.
Sherri Gragg fulfills all the writing potential that earned her fourth place in the 2012 Writer's Digest Competition with this debut compilation of powerful devotions. Where she mixes biblical research and history with scripture and creative narrative. She guides readers into the life and times of Jesus through short-story style devotions that begin with suggested scripture readings and end with scripture and prayer.
Join the crowds surrounding Jesus in any one of these fictionalized devotions and witness miraculous healings or experience Jesus commanding the roaring winds and pounding waves to "Quiet! Be still" in Mark 4: 39. Or see the faith of the "untouchable" woman who stretched out her hand to touch the hem of Jesus' robe in the crowds only to hear Him say, "Your faith has healed you. Go in peace" found in Luke 8:48.
Sherri's well-researched, fictionalized format brings memorable biblical accounts to life and leaves readers touched and spiritually blessed, equipped to see Jesus through the settings and cultural lens of the times He lived. Her prayer for readers—to see Jesus "stands with arms open wide to welcome you into His Father's kingdom just as you are."
It's obvious Sherri is a gifted storyteller and I recommend her book to anyone looking for a good devotional.
"Arms Open Wide" by Sherri Gragg, Thomas Nelson—5-16-2014, 224 Pages, 978-1400323463, $16.99
Midwest Book Reviews: April 2014