Jesus Freak: Feeding, Healing, Raising the Dead, by sara miles
sara miles is difficult to label. and i like people who are difficult to label.
sara’s a former chef and war correspondent turned author, episcopalian lay leader, and food pantry organizer. seriously, i doubt that sentence could be used to describe another single person in the history of the human race. way liberal in most ways, sara clearly loves jesus (and is caught in the love of jesus). she’s one of those rare people who would make conservative nervous because of her liberalism, and make liberals nervous because she’s so dang jesus-y.
when i read sara’s first book, take this bread (my review), i felt like i’d found one of those rare books that become a friend. so i was pretty nervous about reading sara’s new book, jesus freak, which officially releases in a week or so. seriously, this is the memory it brought up: i had this surprising, amazing, single date with a girl 20-something years ago (just before i met the girl who would become my wife). but she lived in another state, and we corresponded via snail mail (this was pre-internet!) and the occasional phone call. months went by before the overly-anticipated 2nd date. when it finally arrived, i could barely stand being with her (and i wouldn’t be surprised if she felt the same way). she was absolutely nothing like the person i had created in my memory and imagination. that (as odd as it might seem) was the trepidation with which i started reading sara’s second book.
and, i’ll be honest, the intro felt like that 2nd date. i was totally having a hard time connecting with where the book was headed, and was frustrated by the lack of amazing story-telling that grabbed me so strongly in take this bread. to be fair: i read that first part two days after being released from the hospital from a 4-day stay for pancreatitus; and, while reading, i was seriously hopped up on percoset. so, uh, it’s probably not fair to judge anything from those few days. in fact, i went back later and re-read that intro, and couldn’t quite figure out why i’d struggled with it so much.
but, whether the opening pages are fantastic if the reader is drug-free or not, sara hits her quirky, sucker-punching, story-telling, character-developing, bomb-dropping stride in the following pages. yup, this is what that first date was like. in this book, sara unpacks a theology of “christ in us”, and the particularly unnerving notion that jesus gives us the power to feed, heal, forgive, and raise the dead (which, by the way, are all chapters in the book). i can probably count on one hand the readers of this blog who will agree with everything miles writes or implies. but i would love to think that most of us would massively desire to align ourselves with the spirit of what she writes, with the hopeful power of christ surprisingly entrusted to us.
this book shows the power of narrative to form us. it’s one of those books that causes me to want to lean into a better, richer, more jesus-y story for my own life.