Before cracking open the book I took note of the gorgeous cover and was impressed by the endorsement from author and former missionary, Elisabeth Elliot.
When we meet Juana she is single and looking, then she meets Terry. They fall head over heels in love with one another, get married and begin living the American dream: college sweethearts, successful careers, nice cars, building a house together...what more could they want? But when the work week ends and they wake up to the weekend, Juana usually finds herself in the house alone in tears. Something is missing. She tells Terry time after time how she feels, yet because he doesn't feel the same, he chalks it up to being her issue. Reaching the conclusion the grass might be greener on the other side, Juana walks out.
Had she married the wrong guy?
Did "Mr. Right" exist?
She couldn't wait to find out!
Before long a gentleman did come along, but not who she thought she was looking for. To her surprise, she meets Jesus. Up to that point she hadn't known there was a God who cared about the important decisions in her life, who wanted a personal relationship with her. She believed it was up to her to do everything right.
Choosing Him All Over Again is Juana's story about romance and redemption. In midst of the waiting and hoping that her husband would take her back, she immersed herself in the Word and Christian fellowship. Chapter after chapter she shares the details of her separation and the work God did to grow her through prayer, thought processes, conversations and decisions. In trying times He taught her what a life in Christ should look like:
> how to pray
> trusting God with the outcome
> what it means to have a servants heart
> the roles of husbands and wives
> recognizing her sin and repenting
> fasting and praying for her marriage
> learning to filter the voices of naysayers
> preparing for opposition
> obeying God
As a new believer, Juana soaked up everything the Lord poured into her. She faced temptations and setbacks head on, with courage. Her honest look at the past sins in her marriage challenged me to examine my own. Her emphasis through scripture to truly die to your selfish desires and serve others selflessly with love, had my attention.
Hundreds of pages are devoted to the details of Juana's experiences leading up to her reconciliation with Terry, with viable lessons learned along the way. Most importantly, Christ takes center stage in her story. Though I must admit when the moment God moved to restore her marriage came about in the story, it felt a bit anti-climactic. Not because of how it came about, but because after all the waiting and hoping, only a paragraph or so was devoted to their triumph. I had hoped to read much more about the healing work the Lord did on the backside.
Nonetheless, Juana goes on to share more lessons learned along the way (many from her mentor Elisabeth Elliot), what life looked like living married as believers, advice for those still single or separated, insightful checkpoints to refresh your marriage, and a helpful prayer guide she has used for the twenty-some years since.
As I prayerfully pondered what to include in this post, I was reminded how often we give up the fight too soon. How we get impatient with God and choose to do things our own way out of frustration or desperation instead of waiting on Him. Juana made the hard choice to wait.
Regardless of the opinions of others, she chose to believe God and wait on His timing. Those who give up too soon miss out on the "suddenly's". In God's Word He often shows up "suddenly" and acts on behalf of His children; He comes out of nowhere and does that which is least expected. If we remain patient in the waiting while trusting Him we learn to persevere, which in God's economy develops our character, and increases our hope. He's doing that in my life, and He did it in Juana's. She waited patiently for the Lord, long beyond the time most would give up, and one day He moved "suddenly". Her marriage was restored.