Jill Morikone, author, 3ABN Books/Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2013, 127 pages, US$13.99, softcover. Reviewed by Lyndelle Brower Chiomenti, editor of CQ Bible Study Guide for Young Adults.
Growing in Christ is a journey. And just as it is with any journey, growing in Christ has a beginning, a destination, and a multitude of steps in between. The recently published book HeartLift: Experiencing God’s Freedom, by Jill Morikone, is divided into seven “steps” that take readers on a journey from brokenness to transformation. Beginning with forgiveness, she helps her readers negotiate such roadblocks as fear, sadness, impurity, pride, and great disappointment, until they reach their destination: a state in which the heart is transformed for service.
In between the beginning of the journey and its end, the traveler learns about forgiving others and several elements of life that prevent us from connecting with Christ—elements such as bitterness, jealousy, pride, and impurity. In tracing this journey, Morikone describes the theological processes of salvation, justification, and sanctification as they unfolded in the daily events of her life and in the lives of others.
We meet a woman who shares with her Bible study group about how she struggled to forgive her father, who was in prison for sexually abusing her, and we are introduced to a teenager who had been cutting herself. We stand beside Morikone herself as she reveals her own struggles to overcome fear and bitterness when her mother was diagnosed with a serious illness and when she learned that she and her husband, Greg, were unable to have children. And forgiveness becomes real to us when we learn about the guilt a woman carried because she killed another woman in a car accident.
Morikone also relates biblical events to their modern equivalents. For example, she recounts how the Savior’s grace-filled words spoken to the sinful woman at the well extend to her own inward condition of heart and soul, her own “purity of thought, purity of heart, purity of life,” or lack thereof (p. 71). Furthermore, she helps us to understand today’s problems with jealousy by vividly reminding us of Lucifer, who was once the “most glorious of all the angels, the most talented, the most important” until he became proud of himself and desired to become “like the Most High” (Isa. 14:14).
Perhaps the two most important chapters of HeartLift are the last two: chapter 13, “A Heart That’s Transformed”; and chapter 14, “A Heart That Serves.” Chapter 13 points the reader to the Bible “as the most powerful cleansing agent” there is when it comes to purifying one’s soul (p. 119); and chapter 14 discusses the outcome of being transformed—developing a heart that serves. To that end, Morikone writes, “Our Master longs to use us even though we’re ordinary women—just ordinary clay pots—because only then can others truly see the power, the greatness, the goodness of our King. It can never be about us. It always must be about Him” (p. 125).
So it is that HeartLift carries its audience through the events of life to the feet of Jesus and His cross, where all people can receive life eternal.