Monday, March 05, 2012

"I Am Second" (Doug Bender and Dave Sterrett)

TITLE: I Am Second: Real Stories. Changing Lives.
AUTHOR: Doug Bender and Dave Sterrett
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: Thomas-Nelson, 2011, (246 pages).

This is a book that brings together stories of ordinary people who experience the high of achievements in their respective areas of difference, and being cruelly brought down by the circumstances of life. Following the pain, the sorrow, and the torment of being thrown at the bottom of the pit, the protagonists in each chapter find hope, meaning, and purpose as they receive a second chance. More importantly, this second leash of life begins with a confident declaration that one is no longer a self-seeking 'I am first.' Instead, it is a brand new attitude that is not shy to say: "I am second."

The twenty stories in this book have essentially this message, that "I am second, because God is first." Through the pop singer Brian 'Head' Welch, we read about how Welch learns the futility of money, pleasure, and fame, and that these things do not really matter as much as he thought in the journey of life. Michelle Aguilar tells of how her parents' broken marriage affects her self-image, and subsequently her relationship with her mum. Even after winning the TV series, 'The Biggest Loser,' she is able to attribute her inner strength and motivation back to God. There is also a pastor struggling with a life of duplicity where he is a porn addict on one hand, and a pastor on the other hand. There is He confesses that his road to recovery begins when he confesses himself as a broken and needy person, and found support in an accountability group. There are stories of drug addictions, failed relationships, the futility of fame and riches, of recovery from racial hatred, war ethical dilemmas, marriages broken and healed, and others. One of the most visible stories is that of Bethany Hamilton whose bravery in coming back to the surfing scene despite losing her left arm to sharks has inspired the making of the movie, "Soul Surfer." There are many more well-known personalities who tell of their riches-rags-zero-newlife transformation. All of them have one thing in common, that God is first, and they are happily second.

Closing Thoughts

It is difficult not to be moved by the openness and honesty as each testimony speaks of the wonderful feeing of being #2 in a world that is crazy about being #1. The authors of the book have helpfully pointed readers to other similar stories on the Internet. Conveniently stored in the "" website, there are videos, audios, and pictures to supplement the book. This book is powerful in at least three ways. Firstly, it reminds us of the futility of putting our hopes in the things of the world. Worldly things are temporal and will not last the length of time. Secondly, it reminds us that there is hope in God. The world picks and chooses what it deems suitable at that time, place and circumstances. God accepts people regardless of the ups and downs of life. Thirdly, it gives us a brand new meaning and purpose in life, which comes very powerfully when we declare "I am Second."

As I think about the white chair on the book cover, and how each person in the story sits to tell their testimonies, I see the symbolism the following way. An empty chair symbolizes that the invisible God is first sitting on the chair. It is the grace of God that invites individuals to come and sit with God, and to learn intimately that there is no shame in "I am second." All of us will have a chance to sit on the chair and to experience renewed hope and joy in our lives. Most importantly, these experiences are but glimpses of our eternal life in God. A life in Jesus that will last and last and last.

Rating: 4.5 of 5.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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