I don’t write many book reviews on God Running but the timing of Steve Mays’ book, Overwhelmed by God, was pretty incredible. About a year ago, my two and one half year old grandson Andrew developed a lump on his right shoulder. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. His pediatrician thought it was just an unusually large swollen lymph gland. But after three treatments with three different antibiotics the lump was still there. All those treatments, all those trips to the doctor, they took time. Months passed. Eventually his parents took him up to Oregon Health & Science University where the lump was misdiagnosed again. Finally his dad and mom sent an MRI down to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, to the same doc that did the surgery on his skull for craniosynostosis. (That was one radical adventure. If you’re interested you can learn more about it here.)
So now a year has gone by. The doctor at Phoenix Children’s says, Hey, they missed the diagnosis up at OHSU. We need to take that tumor out right away and have it diagnosed by a pathologist. “Diagnosed by a pathologist.” I’m not a doctor (nor have I ever played one on TV) but even I know what that means. That means they need to check it for cancer.
A little before Gabe and Charise took Andrew down to Phoenix we took Andrew to church for prayer, and, around that same time, I started reading Overwhelmed by God. All this is very recent, in fact they’re still down in Phoenix even as I write this post. I was most of the way through the book when they removed the tumor. We’ll get to the pathologist’s report a little later.
Trials Like Waves Rolling In One After Another
Steve Mays is the senior Pastor at Calvary Chapel South Bay in Gardena, California. He wrote the book after going through a grueling health related ordeal. He went into the hospital for a back surgery. After enduring this agonizing surgery, he was told some of the screws used to stabilize his back, had backed out. He had to go in for another surgery. Then it happened again. And then it happened yet again! Over the course of eight months the pain pulled Mays down to some of the lowest lows of his life. He struggled to find a way to make it through, but he did find a way. And he shares it with us in his book.
But the book isn’t just for those with health problems. As the title implies, it’s for anyone who’s overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by financial problems, marriage problems, parenting problems, loneliness, or any other overwhelming trial or problem. The book is written for anyone experiencing that feeling of dread that we all get to experience in life. The feeling that you’re drowning in difficulty.
Mays writes, “God wants us to shift our focus away from the issues that make us feel overwhelmed and instead allow Him to overwhelm us with Himself!” The book is organized into twelve chapters designed to help the reader do just that. Each chapter addresses how to become overwhelmed by a specific dimension of God’s character. Mays writes about God’s love, grace, forgiveness, mercy, purpose, etc. And he does so in a way that not only instructs, but comforts and encourages.
I loved this book. Reading it around the time of Andrew’s surgery certainly contributed to my enthusiasm but then, that’s why the book was written. Kathy’s away on business right now so I wound up quoting it on Twitter and Facebook for her encouragement (at her request). The stories and illustrations are excellent. One of my favorites is about the procedure a mental hospital uses to determine when a patient is ready to be discharged. I found myself wishing I had this book when I was experiencing previous low points in my own life history. I was wishing this book was around for some of the previous low points in the lives of my family. I think Job himself may be in heaven right now, wishing he had this book during his trials.
I give it a 4.5 stars out of 5. It was one of the best books I’ve read in 2013.
Even if you aren’t going through a trial currently, as the book points out, every one of us will go through them eventually. It might be a good idea to have Overwhelmed by God on your bookshelf before the trial comes.
Oh, and the pathologist’s report on Andrew’s tumor?
If you’re interested in purchasing Overwhelmed by God and not Your Troubles, by Steve Mays, just click on the link: Overwhelmed by God.
You can read the testimony of Steve Mays here.