If I had to choose between mountains and ocean, I’d choose the ocean for sitting, looking, and reflecting but the mountains for interacting. I regain my rhythm when I’m hiking and exploring and find nothing more awe-inspiring than looking at the valleys from the top of a peak.
Perhaps it’s this preference that made the first half of Jonathan Martin’s How to Survive a Shipwreck hard to connect with. I just didn’t identify with the sailing imagery. Martin begins his story with an outline of his own loss – loss of a church, loss of a marriage. At first, I felt frustrated with the vagueness of these losses, but as the story unfolded, I realized I didn’t need specifics.
Martin finds himself adrift and shares his story of regaining footing – through community, a change of scenery, and a shift in thinking as he reread the Bible for tales of shipwreck and loss.
I wish I could separate my rating into two categories: 2 stars for Martin’s personal story and 4 stars for his commentary on Biblical stories. Like I said, it took about half the book for me to really connect with Martin’s story. Once I did, it was tough to put down. But, his writing – though poetic – is meandering and I felt like he could tighten his examples.
The parts that most resonated with me are when he walked through the stories from the Bible. His thoughts on Job and the Leviathan made me eager to reread that story. Martin reminds us that sea monsters aren’t something God should save us from but rather a reminder that,
God is at home in chaos – it’s the place from which he started the universe. (129)
Had Martin made that sentence his central thesis, I think the book may have appealed to a wider audience.
I think this book will resonate with people going through a loss that is not devastating. It’s an encouragement and gives hope in the journey. Martin’s story is the one you hope for during a difficult season – of hope, seeking, and ultimately successful redemption.
Are you more at home by the sea or in the mountains? Where do you go to recalibrate?
GIVEAWAY! I am giving away my copy of How to Survive a Shipwreck. Leave a comment about how a time you experienced loss and I’ll randomly select a winner on Friday, July 29, 2016. (United States addresses only.)