PUBLICATION DATE: FEBRUARY 21, 2012
n Lazarus Awakening, the final entry in her Bethany trilogy, Joanna Weaver takes a fresh look at the story of Lazarus. Although the book is scattered in places, it is nonetheless a helpful examination of how Christians are called to live life fully. The main point is to encourage us to put aside performance-driven faith, and instead realize that we are meant to live in Christ’s love, “unhindered by fear, regret, or self-condemnation.”
As always, Weaver’s knowledge and analysis of Biblical passages is impressive. In addition to the story of Lazarus, she references a number of other relevant verses. The number of Biblical passages discussed in the book seems appropriate for its length.
Fans of Weaver will appreciate her analysis of the Lazarus story, which is creative and thought-provoking. When discussing how Jesus arrived in Bethany after Lazarus had already died, she asks “Have you noticed that when Jesus comes on the scene, what seems to be the end is rarely the end? In fact, it’s nearly always a new beginning.”
The book contains many quotes from other Christian authors, including Beth Moore, Frank Peretti, Max Lucado, Oswald Chambers, and Joyce Meyer. On the one hand, the passages quoted are relevant to the material being discussed, and for the most part, they are interesting. On the other hand, some readers might have hoped for more original content from Weaver.
The original content from Weaver is thoughtful and inspirational, even though some parts of the book seem to meander and are not particularly well organized. I think the most helpful section of the book is the examination of what it means to live as though we have been resurrected. The author suggests that this involves rejecting anything that is in opposition to the rule of Christ in our hearts. Her examples are relatable. She talks about “my desire to control and direct my own life (and the lives of others)” and “my insatiable appetite for escape (whether it be through food, television, books, or other avenues).” Weaver makes the point that we are often consumed by me-centered desires, which inhibits our ability to live life fully in Christ’s love.
Some may be bothered by the liberties taken by the author as she speculates what Biblical characters and God are thinking or feeling. The most noticeable occurrence is when she imagines God as lonely and having a “quiet restlessness” about Him, prompting His desire to create the world.
Several times throughout the book, Weaver mentions that she had a hard time writing the book and was behind on her deadline. This is somewhat distracting, and the book would have been better without it.
Familiarity with the first two books in the Bethany trilogy is not necessary in order to enjoy this one. In fact, some of the most salient points from Have a Mary Heart in a Martha World and Having a Mary Spirit are summarized in Lazarus Awakening.
The book includes a Bible study guide for both individuals and groups. This new paperback edition features a bonus chapter called “What’s Tripping You Up?” The bonus chapter is well-organized and certainly adds value to the book.
Fans of Joanna Weaver’s other books are likely to enjoy Lazarus Awakening, which despite its minor shortcomings, is a provocative and inspiring book.