“Elizabeth, you need to read this book!” my friend exclaimed.
“Ok!” I replied, showing my openness to be inspired.
“The story is about a family from Bogalusa, LA, right here, in our own backyard,” my friend continued as she bobbled the book in front of my face. Her jerky movements were meant to get my attention and keep me engaged.
“Elizabeth, you know how this story came into print?” she asked pinching her voice to make a point. I rounded my lips to respond, but didn’t have enough time for a sound to form.
In a split second, I realized my friend had no intention of hearing from me. Instead, she was determined to move her end of the conversation forward and motivate me.
“Rebecca, the author of the book was sharing her story during a Bible Study. The people in attendance were so moved by what they heard they convinced her to write the story down. Elizabeth, God took it from there, leading Rebecca on a path to get it published,” she added.
“You know, the same thing is going to happen to you!” she punctuated her words with firmness.
I nodded my head to let her know I was listening. As well, I received her words of encouragement because I needed them. I am beginning to learn there is nothing easy about publishing a book. Besides the writing process that is required, there is a social media platform that must be built (YUCK!) and many rejection letters to be received before finding the right publisher, all of which have stretched me beyond myself.
However, anything that I am feeling in the department of discomfort pales in comparison to what Rebecca and her family were called to endure. As I read, The Devil in Pew Number Seven, I was reminded of the pain Christians are often time called to endure. Surely, the Nichols family suffered their fair share. Often times when reading, I thought more than what they could possibly handle. Fear, persecution and feeling hated played a part in their journey. They were constantly harassed, bombs were set off near their home and a broken glass window pane shattered on top of their newborn son.
As difficult as it was to read, God’s grace in the lives of these people was ever present. Rebecca is honest about the scars that are left on her family. However, she doesn’t park herself there and hang onto the pain that was inflicted on her nor, the family she loved.
Instead, she moves past the affliction and learns how to forgive. She isn’t shy about sharing the struggles. However her ending emphasis is one of deliverance. Ultimately, she shares a story of survival. Therefore, allowing her readers to tag along with her as she breaks the chains of trauma, allowing her to live a life of freedom.
If you can imagine, when I turned the last page, I found a gentle smile on my face.
Oh, yes I ached on the inside and my empathy was in over drive!
However, the message that I walked away with is Forgiveness is the Answer to Freedom. In the end, Rebecca’s faith allowed her to heal after living through a season of scarring. Then as the years past, she was led to a place of peace about what had happened.
On top of that, she took the time to write down her experience so that another person could glean from the wisdom she gained, be inspired by her perseverance and to illustrate an example that faith in Jesus Christ works.
Thank you Rebecca for showing me how it is done. You made yourself vulnerable and for that I appreciate you. You kept my eyes on the cross as you walked me through your crisis. As well, you showered me with hope, love and faith all the way to the end.
A few days later, during a quick phone call my precious yet pesky friend asked “And, how did you like the book?” “It was unbelievable and reading it was good for so many reasons,” I started my response. Quickly sucking air through my nostrils, I readied myself to unleash all that I reaped by reading Rebecca’s book. Unlike our last conversation, this time I had plenty to say. “You were right,” I confirmed to my loving phone caller. “Reading her story inspires me! Seeing her story in printed form lets me know publishing can happen for little ole’ me living in Mandeville and her faith journey has nourished the hope inside of my heart.” I added.
Before we hung up, I ended our conversation with,”You know, it is my prayer, that one day I could touch as many lives as Rebecca has.”
Here’s to hoping Sam was Here … (my proposed book title) will be used in the same way.”
Be blessed as you read this book:
Guide me as I try to do the same good work as Rebecca. I know, just as she does, that you are present in all things and that what occurs in our lives will be worked for good. Help me as I work to record your presence in the middle of my mayhem. Possess my writing so that my words are interesting, easily understood and carry your message of healing. I ask that you open doors wide so that I can step through them. I ask that you lead me to the places, to the people and to the publisher that are waiting for me to arrive, so that together we can send forth your message of hope.