Monday, October 03, 2011

Book Review: "Unbridled Grace"

Unbridled Grace: A True Story about the Power of Choice
by Dr. Michael J. Norman
Indianapolis, IN: Dog Ear Publishing, 2011

“Unbridled Grace” by Dr. Michael Norman is subtitled “A True Story about The Power of Choice.” Dr. Norman is a firm believer in the gift of our free will and the power of our choices to shape our lives. We can choose to either cooperate with God’s will for us or work against it. Following God’s will is frequently the much harder path. It “initially instills fear deep within our hearts because it requires the greatest sacrifice, possible acceptance of pain, and no promises of easy solutions. . .[but] surrender, detachment, meekness, and humble submission to God’s will is the only path to our destiny and God’s dreams for us.”

Dr. Norman should know. He faced incredible odds and, in the midst of them, developed a renewed faith in God and continued to trust in Him even when the whole world seemed stacked against him. In 1994, he was fresh out of chiropractor school, married, with a new baby, when he answered a classified ad in the local newspaper for a part-time chiropractor. The job seemed perfect – he could work around his private practice and he desperately needed the money.

Unfortunately, he would ultimately find out that his employers were actually members of the Russian mafia. Despite his innocence of any wrongdoing, he would be arrested by 6 FBI agents in front of his then five-year old daughter and given a choice. He could plead guilty to Federal perjury and agree to lie to put others in prison in order to avoid prison time, or he could fight the trumped up charges and risk going to prison for ten years. He chose to fight.

“Unbridled Grace” tells the story of that fight and the struggles and blessings that came along with it. The story itself is compelling – it could easily be a riveting movie, but that isn’t the best part of this book. Rather, it is the reflections at the end of the chapters in which Dr. Norman shares his hard-earned wisdom about life and faith that make this book worth your time.

In the midst of his struggles, he rediscovered the Catholic faith of his youth, inspired by a Father John who took the time to meet with him regularly and guide him in his journey. Dr. Norman integrates elements of that renewed faith and his learning the art of submission into these instructional passages. He does not sugarcoat the teachings. He is a man who has suffered and knows that others suffer as well. He has experienced dryness in prayer and felt abandoned in the midst of his hurt. He also acknowledges the battle is never-ending this side of heaven. But he emphasizes that how we wage that battle has eternal ramifications. Our time here on this earth is short. We will have to answer for how we used that gift of time.

“Unbridled Grace” is a quick read, but with a tremendous message. One would never want to have walked in Dr. Norman’s shoes, but we can all recognize our own battles in his personal struggles. He shares much wisdom in these pages which can help us on our journey towards God.

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