Do you find yourself feeling ashamed or riddled with continuing guilt? Do you live in fear? You can find your way to live a life of freedom…if you take the first steps of a journey that grows in love, knowledge and service for Jesus Christ. He died to give each of us abundant life, free of shame, free of guilt, free of fear. Bible scholar Carol Cline takes us on her journey from a broken, dysfunctional family life, through one act of cruel and shameful violence done to her, to her own first steps to recovering her wholeness as she learns to live with the love of Christ. You’ll learn from her the spiritual practices she uses daily and which have shaped her journey and led her confidently to Christ. Daily spiritual practice is like exercise, she tells us. At first you start with a coach or a guide or even a partner, but with continued practice you are able to deepen your intimate relationship with Christ each day yourself. Amazing Grace as Christ Walks By can lead you from being broken to being whole, in Christ. (from Outskirts Press back cover)
“Amazing Grace as Christ Walks By can lead you from being broken to being whole, in Christ”.
The above line is copied from Outskirts Press book description for “Amazing Grace… as Christ Walks By”, written by Carol Cline. While this is a very large claim to make, there are elements of this statement in the book.
I see Carol Cline’s book more as a short story collection, than a progressive autobiography. While the book is autobiographical, it also reads as a Daily Devotional – or maybe a Weekly Devotional. The book is written as a chronological telling of how Carol let Christ work in her life, and at times she is quite candid about very personal issues. The chapters are divided into years, (i.e. 1975-1980, 1983-1985, 1989-1991), but does contain some overlap – which I think is an excellent characteristic of Carol Cline’s writing. The chapters are divided, but also cross over critical topics.
One of the things I most appreciated when reading this book, was how open Cline has been about such issues as illness, rape, death, and family life. Both her biological family and the family she married in to. As I read about these often painful memories of Carol, I felt privileged to be a part of them.
There are some sections of the book that are a little disjointed and contain statements that seem out of place. For example, when speaking about one of her family moves, Carol’s paragraph includes a statement about having family members over for dinner the night Princess Diana died. I am not sure how that information fits the topic, other than giving us an additional time perspective – although I do not think that is necessary. I am not convinced this line is pertinent. This happens a few times in the book, (although not the same sentence about Princess Diana!), and I found these points to be distracting. I was left with a “what does that mean” feeling.
Carol Cline’s writing style is comfortable and free flowing – has almost a rocking sensation as the reader is lulled through up and down, back and forth, sentences. I find this writing style immediately draws me in to the feeling of “I’ve been here before” – has a familiar sound to it. This makes it easy to read.
Cline’s beliefs and emotional attraction to Christ is evident immediately from the title, and continues throughout each chapter. There is no doubt that Cline has journeyed from “…Brokenness to Wholeness”, and she wants the rest of us to acquire the feelings she has grown into and matured with. While that may not be possible during this short work, (87 pages), Carol’s energy jumps off the page, and hopefully into the reader’s heart – to be led who-knows-where! Anything is possible!
“Amazing Grace …As Christ Walks By” may seem like a short, easy read – but do not kid yourself, there is a lot packed into these pages.
As I mentioned earlier, I think this book would work well as a Weekly Devotional – one chapter each week. I also think it lends itself to a small group setting for faith discussions. The chapters can be taken in sequential order, but I do not think anything would be lost by taking the chapters in random order. After all, Christ’s movement in our lives is not always sequential!
I do think this book might be better appreciated by Christians who are at the beginning of their faith journey. Christians who are farther along on their journey might not find enough substance to satisfy their needs. I also think that, should she want to do this, Carol Cline could turn this short book into a much longer read, by getting more detailed about facts, as well as more detailed abut her faith experience.
Overall, this is a good read, and one that can be re-read as the reader sees fit. Carol Cline shares events that are deeply personal and the reader can feel her pain – and her joy – through their own eyes. It truly is “Amazing Grace”.