Life happens, and Christians are not immune to the difficulties that it holds. John Greco can attest to this, and he has in his book Broken Vows. Greco was married and moving towards his dream job of becoming a discipleship pastor when everything fell apart. He tells his story and manages to describe the positive results of a very negative situation, reminiscent of the place that Joseph found himself when he told his older brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Greco describes his story with raw honesty, fully disclosing his own responsibilities in the midst of the pain that he was going through. His tone is always humble, never coming across as arrogant or pious, just being himself (even to the point of refraining from using the dreaded label “ex-wife” for the much more gracious “former wife”). He speaks of the hurts that he experienced at the hands of “church people” who may once have experienced the grace of Jesus Christ but seem to have forgotten that it extends beyond themselves.
John does a good job of building a solid foundation on Scripture as he lays out his own story and talks about the fact that divorce is sin, but not something that puts us beyond the reach of a God whose ultimate plan is redemption and restoration. He reminds the reader that, as much as we might like to, we cannot tidy things up with pretty bows and neat packages when sometimes, they are just dirty and ugly and force us to reconcile with them or even live with their tension and discomfort. I’m reminded of the words of Derek Webb in his song “Nobody Loves Me” when he says, “The truth is never sexy, So it’s not an easy sell. You can dress her like the culture, but she’ll shock ‘em just as well.” There is no attempt on Greco’s part to dress up his situation and make it look like something other than what it is, hard, difficult, and painful.
Through it all, God accomplished something miraculous through Greco’s situation. His experience drove him to a full reliance on God, dropping all idols and distractions. Greco shares with the reader the six steps or movements that he found helpful to move forward through the pain and hurt of a situation. He does not attempt to downplay the pain and hurt, but also acknowledges the power of the Gospel which, as Paul wrote in Romans 1, brings salvation.
Greco fully admits and acknowledges that his view had become distorted and he had, “let my desire for the good overshadow my desire for Jesus.” Despite the cloudy vision, the restoration that he experienced led him to conclude that, “There is no limit to what God can do with a life yielded to him.” Broken Vows is an honest account of one man’s struggle with the brokenness that we all face while living in this world, a world in need of redemption. I appreciate his honesty and candidness. While Greco’s subject is divorce, his experience and God’s wisdom to him through it can be helpful to those who struggle through all of life’s difficulties.