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"...you must read this book!"

If you’re hurting, you need to read this book! If you know someone who’s hurting, read this book and give it to your friend who’s hurting! If you’ve been let down, hurt, or even betrayed by someone you’ve trusted, you must read this book! If you feel that God has somehow not been the God you expected or trusted, you need this book! Jay is a powerful speaker who has a simple, easy-to-understand way of helping anyone get through the kinds of strug- gles we all face at times. He’s a storyteller—and a very good one. His stories—about friends, strangers, and even himself—are riveting! I dare you to try to lay this book down in the middle of reading one of them!

—Jimmy Houston Host, Jimmy Houston outdoors 

If “writing what you know” is the key to an author’s success, then Jay Lowder is well on his way. Jay does not presume to instruct readers on “how to” overcome life’s hurdles, as it’s clear he himself is still a work in progress. But through the power of story his anecdotal insights provide a portal into his life, mind, and heart—warts and all. If the man on the platform can be so transparent as to admit he too questions his own spirituality, faith, love, hope, and failure, how can we not be similarly challenged to the same admission and driven to seek answers from the same source? Jay is not trying to pull us up the mountain where he has attained perfection. Instead, he is trying to direct us and drive each of us to find and fuel our own way.

—Larry Ross President, A. Larry Ross Communications; Director of Media Relations for Billy Graham 

"...how can we not be similarly challenged?"

   At some point we all feel abandoned - by a friend, spouse, family member, or even God.  We search to discover meaning for our lives.  Often religion tries to confine the answers we seek to church buildings and candy-coated sermons, but in life's darkest moments hope is sometimes illuminated through the most unlikely people at the most unforeseen times.

   In Midnight in Aisle Seven Jay Lowder presents encouraging, raw, genuine stories of real people, including himself, to demonstrate how anyone, anywhere, can experience an encounter that brings significance to their life.

 
 
 

Book Introduction

   I am fascinated by a compelling true story. When I was a young boy, I loved to hear my grandfather tell stories about his days as a soldier and his travels around the

world. They captivated my imagination and prompted me to secretly dream of living an adventurous, meaningful, heroic life. His stories also taught me that one of the best ways to avoid making painful, wrong decisions is to learn from the successes and failures of others. This book is a reflection of that conviction.

   As an intense twenty-one year old man, I found myself losing life’s tug of war. With the little rope I had left slipping from my weary grasp, I decided to give up my quest for purpose and end the pain. I pointed a revolver to my temple and prepared to close the final door. Isolated and alone, I became convinced no one understood my despair. Most don’t take the drastic measures I contemplated, but in time I realized there were scores of people like me who were struggling to fill the vacancies and voids in what seemed like a pointless existence.

   Life’s greatest mysteries are often illuminated in the most unexpected places through the most unlikely encounters at the most unforeseen times. Three weeks ago I was reminded of this truth while spending the better part of my evening visiting with men living on death row. The last thing I expected was to hear the stories of faith and hope shared within those prison walls.

   Unforgettable experiences and people have helped bring this book into being. Within these pages are the stories of how one lost man and others like me found identity, forgiveness, direction, faith, and significance. I do not offer you a miracle manual, step-by-step process, or quick fix. To me, sugarcoated solutions have very little impact. What I do present are the raw, hopeful, genuine, messy accounts of real people, including myself, in hopes that they can serve as a type of compass in your search for meaning. The greatest task for any person is to discover purpose in his or her life.

   There are many ways to communicate information, but I have found that some truths are most easily grasped in the context of a parable. By definition, a parable is a simple story meant to illustrate a moral, intellectual, emotional, social, or spiritual lesson. The following parable stories are personal, real encounters that present lessons about life, love, God, and purpose but in an unusual format. Each chapter stands independent of the others and has its own central focus.

   My inclusion of the stories in this book should not be seen as an endorsement of all the choices the individuals made. I merely present them and leave you to draw the conclusions. I make no claims to be an expert. I am only a man with numerous flaws and scars who has escaped to find freedom, satisfaction, and complete peace.

   Of all the projects I’ve ever undertaken, none has been more difficult or rewarding as this. Countless hours have been invested with the goal of providing hope to multitudes of hurting people looking for answers to some of life’s most difficult questions.

   Undeniably and without apology my faith plays the biggest role in my outlook and viewpoints on life. Regrettably, I am not always a perfect example of what I say I believe. Maybe you have been betrayed by someone like me, who claimed an allegiance to Christ. Perhaps your greatest hurts came at the hands of the religious. Maybe you’re convinced people who call themselves believers in Jesus are not compassionate or loving but just narrow-minded critics of anyone who does not embrace their opinions.

   I don’t fault you for drawing these conclusions. I was once one of those people who called themselves a Christian and was everything except a good example of Christ. Many of the accusations made against people of faith are deserved and earned. However, as you read the following pages, I hope you can objectively consider that the picture of God that has been painted for you may not be a true representation of who He really is. Perhaps you can find what many of the people in this book have found, which is a love, understanding, and hope they never thought possible.

   Some of you have been followers of Jesus for years, but you feel abandoned and injured by Him. Instead of living the abundant life you dreamed of, you’re limping along through a series of monotonous days. God seems a million miles away.

No matter how bleak reality seems, He has much more for you. I hope you can discover the beauty, healing, destiny, and wonder I have found through the lives I have written about. Their stories have given me assurance that I am not forsaken. I hope they also will help you discover, or rediscover, that neither are you.