This compelling book is partly about three Mexican fishermen who, against all odds and every record on the books for surviving adrift at sea, were rescued after nine months of floating halfway around the world with nothing in the boat but a Bible. Who was the fourth fisherman? The author, a highly successful and wealthy producer who, counter to all appearances and most perceptions of seemingly rising in the entertainment industry, was rescued from years of inner storms by a friend with a Bible.

Need something new in your summer reading list? This is inspiring.

I interviewed author Joe Kissack on radio, a conversation as stirring as the book. Convinced me the humbling and freeing conversion of heart and mind he went through wasn’t temporary, but it’s also something that requires daily work.

It’s captured in one of the underlying themes, stated early and often in the book.

Oh, the things we don’t know about the things we don’t know.

It was very unclear who I was supposed to be. Where I was supposed to be headed. But I left, nonetheless, setting out on some ocean of life, chasing after something I was supposed to achieve…

I kept searching for more. More of what? I really didn’t know. But something. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it felt like it was out there. Just around the corner…something to fill the emptiness inside me…

Ironically, for all that I had, I was powerless.

And for all that the Mexican fishermen didn’t have…and they had nothing…they found sustenance in surrender. It’s remarkable how this tale interweaves. They’re living moment to moment adrift in a boat in a vast sea, heading for nowhere it seemed. He’s tossing about looking for some lifeline, heading for more medical treatment that’s heading nowhere. And then a friend throws down a Bible.

“Look,” he said…”There’s only one lasting solution for your problem–and that is a relationship with God.”

…I didn’t know anything about a relationship with God, and I didn’t understand what that had to do with my addiction and depression anyway.

But he humored the friend and agreed to pray.

Right then, an amazing thing happened. It wasn’t like any other prayer I had ever heard or pretended to pray. It was like one of those Southern Bible Belt, come-to-Jesus prayers, the kind where you call out of God’s help knowing full well that if he doesn’t show up, you’re doomed.

Who can’t relate to that?

I had never met Jesus–probably wouldn’t have recognized him if I saw him–but praying this way felt natural and real.

But wow, it didn’t last. Or seem to. The rest is history. The fishermen’s story is searchable news online. Joe’s is told in The Fourth Fisherman, and still unfolding in his telling of it.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....