Recent comments by presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann have stirred up the discussion about gay marriage once again. While speaking to a group of high school…
A week ago, there was a man sitting in the Nashville International Airport reading Joy Wilson’s book, “Uncensored Prayer.” He had tears running down his face and was trying to conceal them from the people passing by. Why was he crying?
This man had a seminary degree and thought he understood the God of Scripture. A God who had revealed Himself through the prophets in a structured manner. But while reading Wilson’s book, he understood that God is a passionate God who desires to engage with His children, lavish his love upon them, and hold no good thing back from them. In essence, the rote prayers this man had been saying and his understanding of God had been shaken by Wilson’s words. He had known it even before he had cracked her book open, but he was glad to have had it confirmed by her life experience.
You probably figured it out, but that man was me. Joy Wilson’s book, if you allow it to be, is life transforming. It will change the way you encounter and talk to God and it will reroute your thinking about Him as well.
To be honest, I knew a long time ago that you could talk to God in an uncensored way. Apologies to Joy, but when I was seven, I sneaked a peek at my mom’s prayer journal. She was an author and she recorded many of her conversations with God. When I read them, she wrote messages from God that began with, “My dearest child . . .” For years, I thought about that. Could God really speak to us like that?
Joy Wilson believes God wants to. But we have to be willing to approach God in an honest way, bearing our hearts and souls to Him and laying it all on the line. She bases much of her book on Jacob’s experience with the angel in Genesis (also referred to in U2′s Bullet the Blue Sky “Jacob wrestled the angel and the angel was overcome”). We can and will discover more about ourselves and God when we engage and wrestle with Him in prayer. She’s right.
Let me say this – I wasn’t sure what to expect theologically. I love theology. Not because I am a fan of arguing aspects of theology, but because I love God. Joy’s book resounds with sound, biblical theology. I was so proud of her. She comes from a solid church upbringing and has matured into a place that is suited for her now. Let me quote a few lines that really impressed the theologian in me:
“God can talk to us through anything: a movie, song, book, or the microwave if He wants to. But I promise you that God will make sure we know it’s from Him. He isn’t going to let us think we’re crazy.”
I love it. In this book, Joy says that God says “crap” to her. He uses 21st century language to her. He is crass at times. He is crude. I know that without a doubt, she has spoken to the God of Scripture. Yes, the God of Scripture has said, “crap.”
It’s important for me to address this. Know why? Because before my fall from ministry, I would have had a very serious problem with this. In her book, though, Joy lets us know that God responds to her in the same way she speaks to Him. I think that’s awesome. But I can even do one better than that.
When I was in seminary, my Hebrew professor went on and on about how the Hebrew language was the crude “language of Canaan.” Hebrew is a very earthy language. And God used it. Boy did he ever. I suppose God could have used some kind of eloquent language to express Himself to the Jewish people. But He didn’t. He was down to earth with them. Don’t believe me? Go read Ezekiel 23. Enough said.
God reveals Himself to His people to let them know that He loves them as they are. And that is beauty. He did that with my mother when he said to her in her prayer journal, “My beautiful child . . .” and he does it in Joy’s book when he says in her song, “You Are I AM,” (more to come about that later): ‘You can’t offend me with the truth, or drive me away.” That is the God I see in Scripture. That is the God I want to follow. That is the God I met after my fall and the God who has held me and loved me unconditionally ever since.
I have no doubt that Joy is speaking to the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. And in that passage I just quoted, she speaks volumes about the character of God. She speaks about His revelatory nature. She speaks about His truthfulness. About the interaction between Him and His creatures. In a few sentences, she says more about God than I’ve read about guys today on their high and lofty blogs.
When you read Joy’s book, it’s like you’re sitting in her living room with her, sharing her deepest feelings with her and hearing her darkest secrets. She’s been in some bad places and she is honest with you. That’s why you know she has communed with God. That’s why you know you can commune with God like she has.
I think the overwhelming theme that kept slapping me in the face was that God loved me for who I am. I’ve struggled in the past few years with my own identity after I fell from the ministry. Joy does an amazing job of proving from Scripture and her own life that God loves us for who we are, over and over, regardless of what we do. His love is boundless, amazing and full of grace. For that reason alone, this book is worth purchasing and sharing. We can never fully understand or appreciate the grace of God in any capacity.
During my seminary studies, I must have read dozens of treatises on God’s grace. None of them touched my heart like the poetry of Joy Wilson. I cried numerous times when reading her work. She helped me understand the true nature of God and His grace like I had never understood it before.
This book is worth buying for several reasons: At least three of Joy’s poems, if not more. Joy wrote a song for her children in the absence of her husband. It is called, “You are I AM.” It is one of the most touching songs I have ever read. In it, she describes how God is all we need. Another one is called “Stark Dark.” When I read it, it was something I wanted to share with God when I was in my deepest depression. Finally, an interaction Joy had with God called “Pilgrim’s Progress.” It touched my heart, especially as she and God talked about how to help other people who were struggling.
Friends, this is an earthy, lovely, and passionate work from a woman who has dealt with a lot of issues in her life and experienced God on her own. As a former pastor, I’ve read a lot of books on prayer and encountering God. This book is the indie Experiencing God of our time. Don’t hesitate to buy it and learn to love and experience God like you never have before.
Thank you, Joy, for sharing this with us. Thank you for bringing back to me the memories of my mother who had uncensored prayer in her life. Thank you for showing us the way to a God who loves us for who we are.
“Uncensored Prayer” is available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats and online through other retailers.
You can also follow her on her blog: joyleewilson.org