Running for Recovery, by Arthur W. Coffey, Jr.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
BOOK DESCRIPTION: Doctors told Arthur Coffey, Jr., that he’d never run again. Like a marathon runner wanting to give up, Coffey looked deep inside himself, relying on his faith in God and spirit. Though the race was long, Coffey learned to run again.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Arthur Coffey has served as a parish pastor for fifteen years, an Army chaplain for twenty-three years, and a Veterans Affairs Medical Center Chaplain for twelve years. He was mobilized for Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Joint Endeavor, and the Humanitarian Aid tour to Guatemala.Coffey is the recipient of the Witherspoon Award for "most creative use of Scripture," presented by the National Bible Association and the Armed Forces Chief of Chaplains. He is also the recipient of a Veterans Affairs National Chaplain of the Month award for "outstanding service in the promotion of the Bible in ministry, healing and research."
MY THOUGHTS: The theme throughout the book is redemption--how God uses our failures, our disabilities, and our shortcomings for something positive. In chapter 1, Coffey sums it up by saying, ""God loves to use or wounds to build 'wounded healers.'" In the words of the author, "Much of this book is my desire to talk things through with my former wife and the children." Lt. Col. Coffey reflects on the many regrets that plague him after the infidelity that led to his divorce. He lays bare the guilt, shame, and heaviness of what he's done, and then shares with us how God brought about the slow process of healing. We follow the progression of physical, emotional, and spiritual recovery that often are occurring on parallel paths, whether it be in his runs, retraining his mind in memorization, or forgiving himself and allowing God to change him from the inside out.
In the first chapter of the book, the author walks us through his first year of training, when he is not only recovering from a very serious motorcycle accident, but also preparing to run a marathon. Each month of this year has a theme, such as April--remember "April showers, May flowers"?--as the month of water. These themes show up in the intense conversations that take place between the author and God during his runs.
In the second chapter, Coffey learns to apply the Word directly to the mental disabilities he faces after the accident. He takes what he's learned to the next level by incorporating it into a study at the Mayo Clinic on the effects of scripture on memory.
The third chapter deals with spiritual recovery, as a minister whose sin destroyed his marriage, his reputation, and much of his personal life. Focusing on the work Jesus completed on the cross, Coffey walks through the process of repentance and cleansing. He learns to forgive himself and those who are judging him, stressing the importance of praising God to win spiritual battles.
The fourth chapter allows us to follow Coffey years past the initial adultery and motorcycle accident, mostly through his career as chaplain in the U.S. Army. He digs deeper into the Word as he deals with trials that threaten to move him backward on the ground he'd recovered.
Although this is an autobiography, it can be read as a devotional if the reader takes time to dig into the many scriptures quoted and expounded on throughout the chapters. An addendum in the back includes a training regimen for getting in spiritual shape.
I gave it 4 stars more for organization and grammar than content. I would have preferred reading this book in smaller chunks, with the four chapters labeled as sections instead, and then broken down further into chapters. I also found the errors a bit distracting (changes in verb tense the most frequent) but not so distracting that I didn't enjoy reading it. I did receive a reviewer's copy, so it's possible that these errors were corrected before the final printing.
I would recommend this book for those who feel sin has irreparably ruined life and for those who would like to understand more about the transforming power of God's Word.
I received a copy of this book through booksneeze in exchange for my honest review.