Which means I get to tell you how this story relates to my own life. (In a minute)
Annie Myers is a good girl. She tries to please those around her with her deeds, and she's devoted to the people in her life, as well as her church--but not Christ. Only she doesn't know it.
After a tragic incident Annie is forced to give her life a thorough look, and she doesn't like what she sees. She feels empty, and unsure of the relationships in her life. That includes her relationship with the Lord. God uses this as an opportunity to bring about a change in Annie, and He doesn't stop there. One by one, we see the characters in this story change as God uses the most challenging circumstances in their lives to draw them to Him.
I kept having flashbacks to my own teenage years as I read Michelle Sutton's book. I grew up in the church. I went on a regular basis and believed I was a Christian because I didn't do all that bad stuff. Then one day, it wasn't enough. My superficial beliefs could only take me so far. So I rebelled and became one of those bad kids--a long with a good percentage of my youth group. Oh, at church we still looked very righteous, but if you saw us on Friday nights?
A funny thing eventually happened. God brought one person--just one--to our church, and because of that person's faith a change started taking place. I remember, for the first time in my life, feeling accepted for who I was. And as I got to know this person I came to understand that a relationship with God was never about following rules; but for some reason, my growing relationship made me want to follow them.
As we were saved, our youth group transformed into a haven where each of us could find comfort and encouragement as we struggled in our walk with the Lord. Before God brought this person to us, the youth group had consisted of about fifteen kids. When we got together, out of the watchful eye of our parents, well. . .we did pretty much everything we weren't supposed to. But, because of one person's obedience to God our activities changed, and more important, so did our hearts. Apparently Christ's love was contagious, because by the time I graduated our youth group had grown to forty-five. And during our time together, we laughed, cried, shared our testimony, and we loved. In other words, we worshiped.
So Michelle, thanks for writng a book that brings so many issues to light. It's so easy to see what's on the outside and make assumptions about a what's in a person's heart. I usually think of this in terms of some one who is outwardly gruff, but tender inside. And yet, I forget that it can go the other way too. I'm reminded that God can use me, and I need to pray for my brothers and sisters and reach out to them. How tragic would it be for someone who is so close to be so far, and miss all of the spiritual blessing God has to offer because I made an assumption.
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."