Book Review – Arise: Live Out Your Dreams on Whatever Field You Find Yourself by Clayton and Ellen Kershaw and Ann Higginbottom

The Kershaw ABC’s

I primarily got this book on a whim because I love baseball – especially the Dodgers –and enjoyed watching Clayton Kershaw work his way into the pitching Triple Crown and a CY Young award during the 2011. I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would – to be honest I didn’t expect much depth from a couple that are half my age – in their early twenties. In this book Clayton and Ellen show that they are wise beyond their years, and totally committed to Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord and to making a huge difference in the lives of people whether on a baseball field or in a field in Africa.

I was pleasantly surprised by what I’ll call the Kershaw ABC’s:

A is for Africa – The book goes back in forth alternating between Ellen and Clayton (there are more chapters written by Clayton) talking about the dreams (goals) that they had as teenagers and how God was at the center of these dreams and how they came to be a reality in each of their lives. Ellen talks of her various trips to Zambia to work with children there and how together in marriage God has allowed them to visit Africa and combine God’s love and gospel message to help children. I found Ellen’s depth in her relationship with Christ to be inspirational and encouraging – and enjoyed what she wrote as much as what Clayton wrote.

B is for Baseball – Clayton walks you through his little league, minor league, and Dodgers career thus far. Any baseball fan will really enjoy what he has to say in these sections – especially the amazing Cy Young performance he had last year with the Dodgers. There is a great story in the book where Clayton talks about a teacher’s advice to him on following his dream in 9th grade to be a pro ball player, “I do want you to understand the odds, Clayton. They are one in a million. But the important thing is that you see yourself as the one. Don’t think about the million. Visualize yourself being the one who makes it. You are the one. Be the one.”

C is for Christ – There is a huge emphasis in this book on what it means to have a personal relationship with our Maker through Jesus Christ, and how to grow, benefit from, and be used in this world by having your identity in Christ and thus giving Him glory. Clayton desires to be known as a “Christian who plays baseball, not as a baseball playing Christian.”

Clayton and Ellen clearly articulate the gospel and how to have a relationship with Jesus Christ by grace through faith in Him:

Clayton, “We are saved through faith in Christ alone. Our words and actions should flow out of a heart that has been changed by the Lord. We can’t earn God’s grace by doing good things. That wouldn’t be grace. Grace means getting something that we really don’t deserve. It’s a relief to remember that God’s grace doesn’t depend on us or on our ability to live a perfect life. Thankfully, it depends on Jesus, who lived a perfect life for us and died in our place.”

Ellen, talking about the father and son in Jesus’ parable in Luke 15, “Rather than punish his son, the father absorbs his son’s guilt and shame so that his son can receive the gift of his love. That’s exactly what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins…When my social life was shaken in middle school, God graciously drew me to Himself…By God’s grace, I have a heart for Africa. By God’s grace, Clayton can throw a baseball. We’re hopeful that we can spend a lifetime figuring out what those two things mean and how to live them out for God’s glory.”

I would say that the target audience of this book is primarily high schoolers, college students, and young people in their twenties. As they say early on in the book, “We want a generation of young people to arise—to hope and believe that their lives are full of purpose.” However, I think anyone who loves the poor and hurting children of the world, baseball, and especially Jesus Christ will really enjoy and benefit from this book. I would especially encourage young people to read this book and emulate the Kershaw’s as they follow Jesus Christ. If you are Christian parent, youth pastor, pastor, or coach I highly recommend that you give this book to a young person in your life – it can be a great motivator for them to follow their dreams and reach them for the sake of Christ and His glory in the world.