Saturday, February 20, 2016

Come to the Garden by Jennifer Wilder Morgan

Morgan has created a novel as a way to share her personal experiences and those she witnessed or heard about while she was a lay minister. She has had profound encounters with the Divine during her life and was looking for a way to help others experience the same kind of godly love she knows. In a dream she heard the Lord tell her to use an angel. She began exploring creating a fictional angel and spiritual encounters. Morgan's garden became the place where Margaret, her coffee drinking guardian angel, would help Jenn, Morgan's character, understand the spiritual experiences she has had.

Morgan has created a fascinating novel. Margaret meets with Jenn several times and the two explore the dreams and experiences and reveal their spiritual import. There are several meaningful messages that come through the story. One is that God knows us intimately and gives us gifts accordingly. Another is that God speaks. We must learn to hear, to listen, to obey, and to discern what He is saying. We are reminded of the reality of the spiritual realm and that angels are constantly by us.

A book like this begs to be evaluated theologically. Margaret and Jenn talk about many spiritual concepts. Morgan has been very careful to provide Scripture, especially at the back of the book, to give the biblical foundation for their discussions. There was only one area that made me a little uncomfortable, that of our existence before birth. Morgan uses Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you...” I think she goes beyond the general understanding of that verse when the angel says, “Every single person who has walked this earth began their journey in heaven, and each of you has been lovingly and joyfully bounced on your Father's knee.” Children retain their memories of heaven for a short time during childhood, she says. The angel also comments that the music humans create is an attempt to recreate the music our souls have already experienced in heaven and remember.

Other than that, I found the novel to be grounded in biblical truth. Reading it has given me a desire to pay better attention to what God is doing in my life. Margaret says, “People all over the world, every day, experience Divine encounters in many different ways. Some recognize the truth of these encounters and give wonderful testimonies, but a great many more do not. Their experiences are discounted as conscience, coincidence, intuition, or imagination.”

I do recommend this book to those who want to be challenged to better understand the role of angels in their lives and how God communicates to us. Just remember this is a novel and is one person's thoughts on spiritual experiences as related to Scripture.

You can find out more and order group study materials at http://www.cometothegardenbook.com/.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Jennifer Wilder Morgan was raised in Ohio and has a bachelor's from Kent State University in speech pathology and audiology. She and her husband moved to Houston where she served as a lay minister for the Spiritual Care Department at the Methodist Hospital. She is active in The Woodlands United Methodist Church. You can find out more at www.cometothegardenbook.com/about/.

Howard Books, 240 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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