Start Where You Are: How God Meets You in Your Mess, Loves You Through It, and Leads You Out of It
By Rashawn Copeland
“You have run down every road
And you’ve lost your way back home (your way back home)
And you feel so dirty you know you’re unworthy
Feeling undeserving of any love, but
There’s no distance too far, that I can’t reach you
There’s no place that’s so dark, that I can’t find you
Anywhere that you are, if you need proof
Take a look at these scars, and know I love you
Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter what you’ve done
You are never, you are never, never too far gone”
~ lyrics from ‘Never too far gone’ by Jordan Feliz
There are scenes in my life that play on a loop in my mind. Scenes containing guilt, shame, and regret. Scenes where viewer discretion is advised. These scenes were once featured in the reality of my former life but by the grace of God they are no longer a part of my current life. But they are scars left on my heart, reminding me of what was and what will never be again.
I live my life in search of discovering God’s message amidst life’s messiness. In my mind, there are no accidents or coincidences. Rather, I believe there are divine appointments and mundane moments that are packed with purpose. I believe this because I know it to be true. I wasn’t in the middle of my mess when I found God. I was stuck at my rock bottom, buried underneath so much rubble. I opened my eyes to the light and took the hand that was extended. Fourteen years later and the hand that led me out of the pit is guiding me in the direction I was always intended to go.
No matter who you are or what you’ve done, you are never too far gone to find your way back home. This is the concept behind Start Where You Are: How God Meets You in Your Mess, Loves You Through It, and Leads You Out of It by Rashawn Copeland and friend, it is a message everyone needs to hear or be reminded of.
The author uses a 3-step pattern modeled in Jesus’ life and ministry – come up, go in, reach out – along with his own powerful testimony to support the process of lifelong sanctification.* The three movements that kickstarted Jesus’ ministry involved 1.) His baptism by John the Baptist (COME UP), 2.) His 40 days spent in the desert fighting against Satan’s failed attempts to lead Him astray (GO IN), and 3.) His active ministry teaching and leading the disciples, concluding with His death on the cross and resurrection into Heaven (REACH OUT). Copeland relates Jesus’ ministry pattern to the reader this way – “When we come up, God meets us in our mess. When we go in, God loves us through our mess. When we reach out, God leads us beyond our mess.” (pg. 18)
Copeland goes on to encourage the reader that God doesn’t grade on a curve but instead by the cross. Each human being is welcomed as they are so they can be made into who they were meant to be. It’s a decision made available to all and one that takes ongoing action and purposeful intention. God is able to do the work within you, but are you willing to receive it? Choosing to start will guide you closer to the prize of finishing (Philippians 3:14).
The main message of Start Where You Are is grace meets you where you are, but it doesn’t keep you there. Praise Jesus for that! God loves to use messes to refine His people. This is seen throughout scripture and for me, God utilizing the most flawed and imperfect people to fulfill His perfect plans and purposes is the hope in which I anchor my faith. Our Creator turns suffering into songs of joy, but the created must humble themselves first and confess their need for a Savior before crying out to be saved. Amen? AMEN!
Start Where You Are walks through the fruit of the Spirit (each chapter covers a different “fruit”), is full of encouragement, and is supported by the author’s personal story of doubt, depression, addiction, fear and more. Each chapter concludes with a themed recap, guided prayer, and practical questions, tips, or considerations to apply to your life.
Start Where You Are is a fantastic book for a seeker or a new believer. Likewise, it would make a thoughtful gift this holiday season and reminds me a bit of the “old school,” best-selling, Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren because it is relatable to all seasons of life and contains a message all people need to hear.
This book was my first encounter with Rashawn Copeland and you guys, he is the real deal! I give this guy utmost respect for showcasing true humility, transparency and vulnerability. His platform is Jesus and Jesus is all you witness throughout this book. For a seeker, new believer or lukewarm Christian, Start Where You Are is an excellent motivator of spiritual guidance but for the seasoned Christ-follower like myself, this book is the long overdue jolt of spiritual pick-me-up needed after an “ugh” year like 2020.
*Sanctification means “the action or process of being freed from sin or purified”
**I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review