Every once in a while a story comes along that simply touches your heart and makes you remember not only how mortal we are, but also how divine God is. Jeanne Damoff‘s book, Parting the Waters, is just one of those stories.
When a tragic drowning accident leaves fifteen-year-old Jacob in a coma, the faith of his family and community is shaken to its foundation. Medical experts used phrases such as “persistent vegetative state” and said, “Jacob will never wake up,” but Jacob’s parents knew God would have the final say.
Without sugar-coating the realities of pain and suffering, Parting the Waters presents the heart-warming, true story of what can happen when a community rallies around one wounded family. While Jacob’s parents struggle to preserve their faith and family, the prayers and innovative efforts of community members result in Jacob’s gradual awakening. Each dramatic milestone in Jacob’s recovery creates a new ripple, touching and changing many lives forever.
I recently had the chance to pick Jeanne’s brain a little bit about her book, and the idea of dealing with tragedy. Here are the results of that interview…
BibleDude: You titled the book Parting the Waters. How did you come up with that as the name?
Jeanne: Because Jacob nearly drowned, I used water imagery and metaphors throughout the book. My original title was Ripples. Parting the Waters was first suggested to me by writer and agent, Deidre Knight, and it grew on me for several reasons. For one thing, there’s the obvious biblical reference to the parting of the Red Sea–a miraculous event that could only be accomplished by God, and yet it required faith and response from His people. I also liked the idea of parting the waters like you might part a curtain–to see what lies behind, to look deeper into something, in this case the purposes of God and the beauty he was creating out of brokenness.
BibleDude: What are the major themes of the book?
Jeanne: Beauty from brokenness. God’s goodness and sovereign purposes in suffering. The body of Christ. The power of community when it works as it should.
BibleDude: What insight did you gain from the process of writing about such a difficult personal experience?
Jeanne: Reliving our experience on the page was excruciating at times, but also very cathartic. I believe it’s good for all Christians to look back on our most difficult times and see how God carried and led us when we felt like we were wandering over jagged shards in a fog. Probably the biggest insight I gained was a deeper assurance that God is in control and I can trust His loving purposes, even when it hurts to breathe.
BibleDude: Did you ever question God through that tragic time in your life, and what helped you to stand strong through all of it?
Jeanne: I never questioned the power or sovereignty of God, but I questioned how this could be His plan for my son. I guess it’s a bit of a paradox, but when I hurt the most and struggled to understand, I also had the strongest sense of God’s loving arms holding me up and keeping my feet firmly planted on the Rock. He worked through many people, churches, businesses, and organizations to provide comfort and support. Ultimately I knew I stood because He kept me standing, sometimes in spite of myself.
BibleDude: What advice do you have for someone who has just entered into a tragic season in in their life?
Jeanne: No matter how angry, sorrowful, or heart-broken you are, fling yourself on God. You may feel like He has let you down, but He is your only source for peace and grace to endure. And He alone can bring you through the valley to a place of acceptance and deeper understanding of His ways. Tragedy didn’t strike you because God is mean or doesn’t care. The Bible clearly teaches that suffering will be part of our experience and is necessary to conform us to the image of Christ. All things work together for our good, but we don’t get to define “good.” Ask God to show you what He is accomplishing in you and others, and be willing to see. Also, please don’t try to do everything yourself. Make your needs known to the body of Christ and your community. We aren’t meant to carry heavy burdens by ourselves. Entering into your tragedy may be an important part of God’s plan for someone else, too.
BibleDude: What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
Jeanne: I hope they will realize more deeply that God loves them and is working out His plans in their lives with perfect faithfulness. Sure we suffer consequences when we make stupid choices, but many of the trials and sorrows we experience have nothing to do with punishment or a lack of faith. They are part of God’s goodness—conforming us to the image of His Son. I hope readers will meet God on the pages of our story and walk away changed by grace.
BibleDude: What has God been teaching you lately?
Jeanne: God is teaching me to rest in His sovereignty and plan. Mine is to daily present my body as a living sacrifice and obey Him in the moment. His is to do everything else.
BibleDude: How and what is Jacob doing now?
Jeanne: Jacob is a precious, happy 27 year old who lives abundantly in spite of his brain injury. Though he wasn’t expected to ever awaken from coma, he walks, talks, laughs, and loves intensely. He spends his weekdays with his long-time aide, Rusty Mauldin, working with his cattle and in his garden, then comes home on the weekends. Jacob worships the Lord with the passion of a lover who is not hindered by self-consciousness. Watching him is like glimpsing eternity.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is going through a tragic experience in their life. And even if you never have or never will, this is a great story that will touch your heart and bless you. If you don’t believe me, then check out what other bloggers have to say about this book. Otherwise, I encourage you to go to the, and get your copy of today!