Few books have touched me like this one. If I had to summarize it in two words, it would be ‘Forgiveness personified.’
The book begins by Rebecca telling her story. In a short time her life went from being a daughter of a happy country preacher, to a living hell when a power hungry man realizes he can’t rule the young preacher and decides it’s time for him to go. The preacher is determined not to be driven away by the vindictive man, but to serve the congregation he loves and tough it out. The man in row seven is relentless and steps up the campaign of persecution.
I’m not going to give away many details since it would detract from the book, but I have to say that the story is compelling and impossible to put down. It begins with a ring side seat, but by the midpoint of the book, you’re no longer an observer, but part of the family. At times the story becomes almost too painful to bear. I found myself asking, “How can she write in such an upbeat tone while expressing such great loss and pain at the hands of another person?” It would be a while before I found the answer to this question.
At one point I was tempted to put the book down because of the personal pain she shared. Not many things can affect me this way, but I found myself asking, how can it get any worse? What is the point of sharing this series of tragedies? Why should any family have to endure this?
Then Rebecca turns the corner at the end of the book. When she encounters the man who caused so much harm, Rebecca is faced with the challenge of forgiveness. Having the example of her father’s forgiveness in the face of such persecution set the example, but now she had to learn to do this in her own life.
In the final pages I found myself saying that enduring the pain of reading her story was worth it. While the hand of providence didn’t erase the pain, God’s work certainly made it clear that it was all worth it and served a purpose. As the reader, I experienced a glimpse of the pain and triumph of the lifetime of struggle this family endured. Because of that glimpse, I see the confidence the believer has when they remain faithful and trust the Lord to reveal the power of life-changing forgiveness. Both in the lives of the forgiven as well as the forgiver are changed.
Though this is a tough read, I believe every person should read this book. It’s a story of living faith and forgiveness personified. It truly shows how forgiveness is possible and that there is no situation that justifies dismissing the command to forgive.
I was so moved by the joy of redemption at the end that it made the difficulties of the story worth the endurance. And this is for me as a mere reader. How much more true is that for the author who actually lived this story?
I highly recommend this book!