My Review of Crossing the Waters

Congratulations to Leslie Leyland Fields for winning a 2017 Christianity Today Book Award for Crossing the Waters: Following Jesus through the Storms, the Fish, the Doubt, and the Seas.

Below is an excerpt of the review I wrote for the book for the Englewood Review of Books. You can read the full review and many others (of many great books!) by purchasing a copy of ERB here.


Fields reminds us of the beauty of following something that’s greater than ourselves, even when we feel like we no longer can. Filled with vignettes from Fields’s own experiences, combined with teaching from the Gospels, Fields brings fresh perspective to stories we’ve heard countless times –and wondered if there was anything left to glean. From her unique vantage point, and as a woman continually in pursuit of a deeper expression of her own calling, Fields depicts the probable reality of many encounters of Jesus’s disciples, and in doing so, encourages modern followers of Jesus to consider anew what it really means.

In addition to the Gospels, Fields weaves in experiences from her own past, reflections as a mother and wife, and the story her pilgrimage to the Sea of Galilee. While I sometimes struggled to find the same resonance within these contemporary Middle-Eastern stories, I respected Fields’s determination to bring the fullest picture of the Gospels to light by weaving in this third dimension. Images of the commercialization of the Jordan River and of her relentless pursuit to fish the same waters the disciples actually fished, added an authenticity to her writing that I admired.

Crossing the Waters does what it promises to do: “leads us across the waters of time and culture” into a new experience with Jesus and his first group of “ragtag fishermen-disciples.” It beckons us to a deeper understanding of the life to which Jesus calls his followers –one that requires persistence, sacrifice, faithfulness, courage, and dependence – and in doing so, reminds us that our faith is never misplaced. We can always trust the goodness of our Father, even when we are tempted to believe that we cannot do “this life” anymore – whatever that may be for each of us as, we travel the uncertainty of our own rugged waters.

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