Carol Kent’s book, Between a Rock and a Grace Place, is a powerful book of God’s healing work. It speaks of God’s tremendous grace in the midst of her family’s agony in having her son, Jason Paul, in a maximum security prison for the murder of his step-daughters’ father.
Yet, Carol’s eight powerful chapters offer hope, peace and confidence to us all in whatever “rocky” place we are in. Everyone has a place of needing God’s grace. A grace that enables us to continue on and trust God, no matter what. Carol has given us abundant fodder for that because in each chapter she emphasizes a biblical character, a contemporary person who is going through some struggle, and biblical principles for overcoming. But likely the most powerful aspect of the book are the letters from Jason Paul from prison and how he is depending upon God for daily survival even as he confesses and repents of the grief he caused.
This book can be used as a powerful witnessing tool of God’s grace and power. And for Christians, it inspires each of us to thank God for the blessings we have and to trust Him for all that may come our way.
I’m pleased to include this interview with Carol Kent, who is a popular international public speaker best known for being dynamic, humorous, encouraging, and biblical. She is an expert on public speaking, writing, and on encouraging people to hold on to hope when life’s circumstances turn out differently from their dreams. She lives in Florida with her husband Gene.
I know Carol personally and can say that she is an authentic woman of God who lives what she says.
What are “grace places,” and how can hurting people in need find them?
All of us experience tight spots when life turns out differently from our dream. When we face the overwhelming obstacles of life, we can experience the last thing we ever expect—the sweet spot of grace. Grace places have a variety of forms, but some include:
- Receiving love when we don’t deserve it
- Finding safety in the middle of a fearful and uncertain experience
- Being comforted by friends and family (people who are extensions of God’s love)
- Experiencing the embrace of God when we have run out of strength and courage
“Grace means the free, unmerited, unexpected love of God, and all the benefits, delights, and comforts which flow from it.” (R.P.C. Hanson)
How important are contentment and gratitude in finding grace and peace?
My son, Jason, is teaching me that I need to choose contentment and thanksgiving in all things. As an inmate in a maximum-security prison, all of his personal items must fit in one small one-foot-high and one-and a half-feet-deep and two-and-a half feet long steel lockbox. He has learned to live comfortably with very little, which brings him a surprising sense of peace.
When I was visiting him one weekend I asked how he holds on to hope in the middle of a life-without-the-possibility-of-parole sentence. He said, “Mom, I have a gratitude list. Whenever the clouds of depression try to discouragement, I get out a piece of paper and write down everything I have to be thankful for. I’m thankful I have two parents who will be my advocates for as long as they live. The average number of years a lifer gets visits is five years and then no one comes anymore. I’m also thankful I can be a missionary on a compound that houses up to 1,700 men.” I’m learning from Jason that I find contentment when I choose to be thankful and when I invest my time in helping other people.
Between a Rock and a Grace Place releases 10 years after your son, Jason, was sentenced to life in a maximum security prison and includes excerpts from Jason’s letters. Can you tell us how he’s doing now?
He has just taken his 8th group of men through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University Course and he will be facilitating a biblical counseling class on marriage and family this fall. He has a prayer group of twelve inmates who fast and pray for the needs of each other and their families. Prison is a depressing, dark, and sad place, but Jason is living for things that will outlast him.
What advice do you have for those who are stuck between a rock and a grace place?
In the middle of your own hurt reach out to someone else who needs help worse than you do. When you involve yourself in meeting the needs of others, you discover an unexpected freedom on the inside. Corrie ten Boom once said, “What did you do today that only a Christian would have done?”
As a result of your journey, you and your husband have founded the nonprofit organization Speak Up for Hope. What are the goals of the organization, and how can people get involved?
Our vision: To help inmates and their families adjust to their new normal.
Our mission: We exist to provide hope to inmates and their families through encouragement and resources.
Please go to www.speakupforhope.org for a list of practical ways individuals, churches, and organizations can help with specific projects. Our goal is to live out the truth of Prov. 31:8-9: “Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the down-and-outers. Speak out for justice. Stand up for the poor and destitute!”
Where may we connect with you further or to purchase a copy of Between a Rock and a Grace Place?
FOR MY READERS: Would you like to win a free copy of Carol Kent’s book? Make any comment on my blog or send me an email (email@example.com) by Thursday, October 14th and I’ll put your name into a random drawing for the book on Friday. Be sure to include your email address so that I can contact you for your mailing address if you win.
(A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me as a blog tour host by Zondervan in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. I was free to make any comments I liked. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services.)