Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sarai, Jill Eileen Smith

Jill Eileen Smith wowed readers with her Wife of David series in which she explored the lives of Michal, Abigail and Bathsheba. Now she is embarking on a new series called the Wives of the Patriarchs that promises to be just as exciting and engaging.

I was so excited to receive a review copy of this book. When I was first introduced to this author it was through the book Bathsheba, which I devoured with great excitement. I expected great things with this book and was not disappointed in the least. In fact her Wife of David series hooked me on biblical fiction as it causes the reader to revisit the biblical accounts and to look deeper than the surface, realizing that these are more than just historical accounts, or stories of legends - they are the actual accounts of living, breathing people who impacted their world and continue, years later to impact our world.

Sarai follows the life of Sarah and Abraham and offers a new look at a very well known bible story. My perspective of this woman and her life is forever changed. This book drove me into deeper study of the biblical account of this woman's journey and her story.

A beautiful woman admired by many, Sarai loved her half brother Abram - and that love was returned. However, she demanded a promise of her future husband that her father thought was too much - she demanded that he promise to have only one wife. In return her father made her promise that she provide Abram with a son and if she could not fulfill her promise that she would release him from the promise she had demanded. In her human pride Sarai accepted thinking the promise demanded of her was easy to complete. Little did she know that God had a plan much greater than Sarai - one that included her learning that in her own strength nothing could be accomplished and that she did not control the events of life.

Old but still a beauty to be reckoned with Sarai can scarce stand the pitiful looks she receives from Lot's young wife who was always bearing another child. She wilted under Meleh's scornful tone and fought the urge not to bend to Maleh's request that Sarai offer sacrifice to the false gods for favor. The weight of her own rash and prideful promise weighs on her heart and soul as she struggles to understand the God of Abram and to believe in Abram's love Sarai becomes restless to fulfill her promise.

When Abram is called to leave his family and to travel to a place God will show this couple embarks on a journey that will forever change their lives. This journey will test their faith in the spoken promises of God as well as their knowledge of Him, it will test their love for God and each other, and will drive them into an ever deepening knowledge of who God really is. Sarai will come face to face with a great and faithful God who outshines any man-made god, who upholds the weak, leads His children and always, always keeps His promises. I believe that she ultimately learns that we do not have any thing to promise any other nor do we have the ability to keep any promise we make other than through God and Him living in us.

This book is a rich tapestry of the full range of human emotion and frailty and the God who brings all imperfection into a beautiful work of art that screams His glory.

If you have ever struggled with your faith, wavered between the things of this world and the things that are unseen in God - find inspiration in Sarai as she too walks this road and in the end discovers the One True God. If your faith has been tested and the promises of God have grown dim in your sight - if you have doubted that He will in fact answer - take courage and see the example in this story of just how faithful God is.

Jill Eileen Smith - I must give it up to you. This is your talent - opening God's word and bringing life to stories that we often do not give enough thought to. You cause readers to stop and really think about these people in a new light - bringing life to the characters and a depth that we often do not allow ourselves the luxury to explore when reading the stories in the bible.

Thanks to Revell for this review copy.

Available March 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

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