In Pierced & Embraced, Kelli Worrall looks at 7 stories of women in the Gospel accounts: Mary, Mother of Jesus; the Woman at the Well; the Woman with the Hemorrhage; the Woman Caught in Adultery; Mary and Martha; the Woman with the Alabaster Jar; and Mary Magdalene.

But before Worrall delves in these Gospel stories, she first retells part of Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Greenleaf”— part of the inspiration behind this book. The main characters, a bull and Mrs. May, illustrate God’s grace:

“Mrs. May is a picture of so many of us,” writes Worrall. “With thick skull and hard heart—full of pride and anger and fear—she wants to control her world. She has a particular idea of how her life should go, and she becomes furious with that bull, who keeps invading her space and tearing things up.”

In our own lives, we often experience Christ’s “piercing embrace.” When we run from God, he pursues us…sometimes to the very end of our ourselves, as was the case with Mrs. May.

I deeply appreciate the author’s honest reflections, particularly the painful elements of her own story. At times, she felt pierced by God, but ultimately, He used these moments for His glory as he grew her into a deeper relationship with Him.

Borrowing from O’Connor’s story, Worrall walks her readers through the stories of women in the Gospels who had life changing encounters with Christ. As the back cover says, “When God comes for a heart, He comes for the whole thing. Pierced & Embraced explores this by examining how Jesus uniquely pursued women in the Gospels, and how He still does today—often tenderly, sometimes painfully, but always powerfully.”

When it comes to sharing our faith, I resonated with the books emphasis on conversation.

“I tell my students that our conversation matters. Deeply. Even eternally. Because ministry happens in conversation,” says Worrall. “Every time we have a conversation with another human being, we have an opportunity to minister to that person.”

“I also ask my students these questions: can you remember a conversation that ministered to you? A conversation during which you felt profoundly seen and heard and known? A conversation that turned you inside out and upside down? A conversation that changed you and your life in some significant way?”

As we interact with those around us, my prayer is that God will give us eyes to see and ears to hear—that we will be on the lookout for the gospel opportunities available through conversation.

(Disclaimer: This book was provided by Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.)

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