Crossing the Waters: Following Jesus Through the Storm, the Fish, the Doubt, and the Seas

Reviewed by: Elizabeth Hartmann, a professional writing major at Taylor University



Title: Crossing the Waters: Following Jesus Through the Storm, the Fish, the Doubt, and the Seas

Author: Leslie Leyland Fields

Publisher: NavPress

Publication Date: October 2016

Format: Print book

Length: 234 pages


Follow me. How will you answer? Jesus’ words cut deep, changing lives. Following Jesus looks different for everyone. For the disciples it meant dropping their nets and abandoning their fishing boats, but for Leslie Leyland Fields, 2,000 years later, it meant moving to Alaska, picking up fishing nets, and learning to sail on stormy seas. What God called one from, he called another to.

Crossing the Waters puts you, the reader, in a wildly rocking boat buffeted by waves of doubt, fear, and trials. Salt water stings your cheeks, and the smell of fish and kelp clogs your nostrils, as Fields whizzes you around on adventures from the oceans of Alaska to the Sea of Galilee. The questions of how you drop everything and immediately follow Christ and how you reconcile the tragedies and suffering of this world with God’s goodness are addressed in this memoir. But when the thunder crackles across the sky and the wind whips the waters into leaping waves, committing to follow Christ through the storms of life becomes more difficult than ever.

In this creative memoir, Fields uses her experiences in commercial fishing to give a fresh look at the motivation and truth behind biblical miracles, such as bursting nets, stormy seas, and even walking on water. She re-imagines biblical scenes, examining Peter stepping out onto the water, discussing the disciples left their nets, and asking why they were so quick to doubt. She views these familiar passages in a new, often contrasting light. But the angle she uses to look at the gospels is not limited to seaweed and salmon, for she also uses Hebrew words and culture to explain the trials of following Christ. From standing on the banks of the greasy, polluted Jordan River to facing the thrashing waves of the icy Pacific, Fields shares the dramatic way water changes lives as she grapples with following Jesus.

The author uses a hefty amount of strong verbs. Her vivid descriptions slam you into the middle of scenes where you can almost experience the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the surroundings and feel her emotions. There were a few grammatical errors and some of the author’s transitions from Israel to Alaska were difficult to follow, but overall the writing was solid.


Rating (1 to 5)

5 stars

Suggested Audience

Christian women forty years and older will especially enjoy this book because the author often shares her struggles as her children grew up and left to make their own way in the world. Because this book deals with modern-day commercial fishing, which is a pre-dominantly male business, men might also enjoy the way this book explores the slimy, rugged, smelly part of both life and fishing. However, any folks who have struggled with doubts or wondered what following Jesus looks like in their own lives will glean insight from Fields’s experiences.

Christian Impact

No matter what sea you pull them from, fish are still fish. In the same way, the truth of the gospels has impact today.Crossing the Waters gives a fresh view on the gospels. Who better to write about the fishermen who followed Jesus than someone who is in the fishing business herself? Every chapter is an adventurous devotional that feeds life-giving truth to hungry souls, just as Jesus fed the thousands with fish and bread.

Other Notes:

Each chapter starts with a selection of verses from one of the gospels relating to the theme of the chapter. To plunge deeper into the ideas explored in this memoir, there is a 36-page study guide included in the back of the book with outlines on how it can be used for personal and group Bible studies.

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Crossing the Waters: Following Jesus Through the Storms, the Fish, the Doubt, and the Seas

About Ceil Carey

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals.

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  1. Clearing Away the Dust – Elizabeth A. Hartmann - October 19, 2017

    […] My second review was a completely different type of book, but it was just as wonderful. When I opened Crossing the Waters by Leslie Leyland Fields, I no idea what to expect. I’d never read a memoir before. But it also proved to be a thought-provoking combination of the days Jesus walked the earth and the modern commercial fishing industry in Alaska. My review was published on Saturday: (Book Review): Crossing the Waters […]

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