Sunday, March 4, 2012

When I Lay My Isaac Down by Carol Kent

Carol Kent was only able to have one son, J.P. whom she and her husband, Gene, loved and cherished. J.P. was a wonderful child, grew up loving the Lord, was involved in church youth groups, made great grades at school and had high plans afterward. He graduated from the Naval academy and trained as a Navy Seal. He met a young divorced woman named April and after a whirlwind romance, married her and became a devoted husband and loving father to her four and six year old daughters.

Carol loved her new grand daughters and her new daughter. At one point she told her husband, “Life doesn't get any better than this.”

The only dark cloud was April's ex-husband. April and her young daughters suffered physical and sexual abuse at his hands. For the first couple of years after their divorce he was only allowed supervised visits with his daughters but he soon took legal action in order to obtain visits with his daughters without supervision. April and J.P. fought this but were told by their lawyer that unsupervised visits were imminent. This possibility seemed to haunt J.P.

One late night Carol and Gene were awakened by a phone call.

Who would be calling at this hour? Listening to my husband, I instantly knew he was receiving dreadful news.
Gene pulled the receiver back and choked out the words, “J.P. has been arrested for the first degree murder of Douglas Miller Jr.”

The book chronicles Carol and her family's descent into the sort of nightmare that the rest of us could never imagine for ourselves or our children. The title is the theme of the book. How does one relinquish control of their child and trust God? How does one respond when your son calls you from prison crying that he'd been jumped on by fellow prisoners that beat and kicked him so hard in his head he could no longer see straight and his front teeth had been knocked out? How does God allow all this?

Carol describes her grief, her doubts, her wrestling with God, and how despite living through hell, she came to the place where she could hand J.P. over to God. To lay her Isaac down.

She shares personal stories of others who came to the same place: a young girl with an eating disorder, a woman whose husband abandoned her to live an unthinkable lifestyle. Men who, because of emotional deprivation when very young, spent years of their adult life seeking worth through one adulterous affair after another. People with alcohol addictions or terminal cancer. Parents with suffering children. The stories conclude with how each of them finally arrived at the place where they could lay their Isaac down and trust God.

The book is written in a Bible study format so each part of J.P.'s story is given in small portions in each chapter while the rest of the chapter discusses biblical principals that author has learned and ends with discussion questions.

Personally I only bought the book because I heard Ms. Kent sharing her story on the radio but wanted more information. Why did J.P. do it? What ultimately happened to him? While the book does bring the reader up to date on the outcome of J.P. I was somewhat dissatisfied because-while she relates her own spiritual journey as well as excerpts from her husbands diary- the people who I was most interested in never got a voice.

I would liked to have heard from April and more detail as to what she actually went through with her ex-husband and what went on personally between her and J.P. I wanted to read a testimony from J.P.-something that might give an inkling as to why he did what he did. It's all still very much a mystery.

Still, if anyone has had to go through the unthinkable with loved ones or suffered personal trauma, this is a good book to read. It could help you as you wrestle with God and perhaps bring you to the point where you can lay your own Isaac down.

I bought this book.


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