Happy New Year! What a great way to start the new year by reading a good book! I had the wonderful opportunity to read “Crossing the Waters: Following Jesus Through the Storms, the Fish, the Doubt, and the Seas,” by Leslie Leyland Fields.
It is so exciting to write this review because Leslie has lived in Alaska for the past 38 years on Harvester Island, an island off of Kodiak island working alongside her family in the commercial fishing industry. She has written most of her 10 published books right here in Alaska.
As Alaskans we are familiar with the fishing industry. For most of us, it is our livelihood our way of life, our provision for food for the year. Every summer we fish our limit of salmon and halibut to fill our deep freezers. Obtaining these fish is not for the faint of heart, it comes at a high cost. It is time consuming and labor intensive, but reaps great fruit and rewards. The fishing industry bonds families and unites communities. However, one has to be prepared for what Alaska has to offer, the elements, the wild life and the storms. Not having the right equipment or gear can be deadly in a place like this.
Leslie does a exquisite job of taking us through the rough waters of Alaska where she lives to the Sea of Galilee where she visited. Even if you have never been to Alaska or the “Gospel Trail” around the Sea of Galilee, you feel like you have been there through her stories. At times, I really felt like I was sitting in the boat with Jesus and His disciples.
Crossing waters parallels the risky and at times rough living off an island in Alaska to the rough storms in Galilee. She takes us on a journey through the gospels and relates the storms, the fishing nets, not being prepared, almost sinking in the boat to what she experienced present times to what the disciples experienced over 2,000 years ago.
Everyones’ journey starts when Jesus tells us, “Come follow me.” We discover along with the the disciples who drop everything and walk away, what happens when we follow Jesus through the storms and the waters.
Through Leslie’s biblical trek to Israel we experience where Jesus walked and performed His miracles. She paints us a vivid picture through the gospels when we trust in Jesus how He always has something greater. She really makes us question what would life be like if we didn’t drop our nets, walk away and follow him, we would be missing out on the best life ever in Jesus.
I love Leslie’s metaphor of water used all throughout the book. The representation of water is used many times in the Bible as a way to show us God’s physical and spiritual provision for life. Jesus is the living water, whoever drinks it will never be thirsty again. Without water it would be the death of us both physically and spiritually. Her depiction helps us to dive into the deeper meaning of the gospels and the water itself. I never thought of the biblical representation of water as Leslie portrays it. She starts with how God created and gathered the waters, what it means to go under the water when baptized and catching fish, to the storms we endure on top of the water, to how God calms our storms.
Leslie shows us through her stories and in the gospels, how Jesus equips and prepares each of us when crossing the waters teaching us to trust and depend on him. This book is filled with rich metaphors and discoveries painting a picture of Alaska and the gospel you have never seen or heard before. She takes us into uncharted territory that many of us will never experience and see in our lives. But that is what’s so amazing about Alaska and the gospels, sometimes we have to go to that faraway place to see all the richness that God has to offer or we experience it right where we are. The only way to truly experience His abundant richness is to drop our nets, walk away and follow Him.
Leslie ends the book with the gospel of John 21, a familiar fishing scene where Jesus says to Peter, “Do you love me? Then feed my lambs.”
“Because this is the truth of following. When he said, “Come follow after me,” it also meant that He would come after us. We have nothing to offer him. We stumble, we faint, we run the other way, and still He comes after us. He wants us. He loves us. He does not let us go” (Crossing the Waters pg. 192).
It’s so amazing how God has everything, yet He pursues us. There is nothing we can offer Him yet He wants us. Whether we are on a Biblical Trek Across the Great Land of Alaska or in Israel, God will always meet us right where we are.
Leslie did an amazing job with “Crossing the Waters,” I definitely recommend buying it and reading it for yourself!
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Have a Blessed week!