The first time I picked up this book to read, it was an e-book version. I dove into the first chapter, and when I had cause to put it down, I didn’t miss it.
When my baby sister decided to buy me a book as my birthday gift and we didn’t locate the title by Karen Kingsbury which she was determined to buy for me, we settled for this after all its a Francine Rivers’ book. I had no clue it was the same book I had started to read once.
Author: Francine Rivers
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher/publication date: Tyndale house publishers inc/ 2003
Pages: 435 pages(my paperback copy)
As Paul and those around him struggle to discern what it truly means to live out their faith, they must ultimately choose between their own will and God’s plan. The story of a dynamic young preacher, committed to building his church–but at what cost?
Paul Hudson seemed like the perfect pastor to lead Centerville Christian Church and Eunice was the perfect pastor’s wife. When Paul accepted the call to pastor the struggling church, he had no idea what to expect. But it didn’t take long for Paul to turn Centerville Christian Church around. Attendance is up, way up, and everything is going so well. If only his wife could see it that way. Still, he tries not to let her quiet presence distract him. But Eunice knows that something isn’t right and it hasn’t been for a long time… Eunice closed the bedroom door quietly and knelt beside her bed. I am drowning, God. I’ve never felt so alone. Who can I turn to but you, Lord? Where else does a pastor’s wife go for help when her marriage is failing and her life is out of control? Who can I trust with my anguish, Lord? Who but you? Grasping her pillow, she pressed it tightly to her mouth so that her sobs would not be heard.
Related: Read a review of Francine River’s Redeeming love here
The title didn’t suggest much to me as I began. I was focused on getting past the start of the book which I found rather boring.
This isn’t the best book I’ve read by Francine Rivers. I appreciate this book in it’s religious capacity. I appreciate the cogent lessons it draws out for a Christian and for the church at large. But as a piece of art, it didn’t hook me much. Not even the blurb!
Paul Hudson and his wife, Eunice appear as the cutest couple around. They have a son, Tim, and together they’re on fire for God.
A call comes to pastor a once-vibrant, now dying church in California- Centerville Christian Centre.
He shakes up the church with the zeal burning in him. One old elder tells his wife at home:
“He’s trying to raise the dead”
“Good” she sipped her decaf laced with cream and sugar. “You’re pleased, aren’t you?”
“What about the others?”
“He shook ’em up”.
“We all need a little shaking up now and then”
Samuel chuckled. ” I don’t think it’s going to be a matter of now and then, Abby, but a matter of from now on“
With the onset of more liberty in a church of his own, Paul’s fire soon needs encampment. He disregards those who brought the call pastor to him, he gets zealous and dreams big.
His dreams are working. The church is growing.
His relationship with his wife and son grows cold.
We encounter how the life of a pastor can radically affect the life of every other person.
We’re left to juxtapose the building God wants us to do to the church (his body) with the building we do to the church ( the structure).
Related: read a review of Francine River’s Atonment child here
Some of the major characters are Paul, Eunice, Stephen, David Hudson, Lois Hudson, Abby, Samuel.
Some of the central themes include: The vast impact of fatherhood on the lives of children; The balance of family life and the ministry call; Love gone sour; Hearing the voice of God.
We have a few beautiful sentences in the book:
“Why don’t you gentlemen go out on the patio and enjoy the last bit of sunsine while I clean up the kitchen? Its hot enough in here without you two adding your steam.”
Samuel chuckled. “What do you say, Stephen? You think it’ll be cooler outside?”
Abby turned at the sink. ” you can always turn on the sprinklers.”
Samuel opened the screen door, inviting their guest to follow. “Never argue with a lady, Stephen. If you win, you just end up feeling guilty”. The younger man laughed as he pushed his chair up to the kitchen table”
“We all have besetting sins, Stephen. They’re the trouble that bring us to our knees and keeps us depending on the Lord for strength”
” he intended to woo her not just in the way he had in the early days of their courtship, with flowers and love letters, soft music and dimmed lights, but with the right decisions. Walking the walk, one step at a time. Keeping the faith with her, safeguarding their marriage”
She looked fragile and broken. “You know what hurts most, Euny? I can’t seem to hear the Lord’s voice anymore. It used to be so clear that it was like a trumpet call-like the shofar of ancient Israel. But I can’t hear him anymore. Not even the still, small voice. And I want that more than anything.” She took Eunice’s hand, her eyes filled with anguish. ” Don’t Let it happen to you, honey. Please don’t let it happen”.
The characters are credible and understandable although a lot of times, I was annoyed by the patience the majority of them demonstrated.
My favourite character is Lois, Eunice’s step mother. My love for her grew in bounds when she had cause to go to a pub. All her responses were lit. She appeared bold and brazen for the gospel, she’d only become subdued by the man she was married to. I was glad she heeded God’s wake up call through Eunice to see what she’d been doing all along.
I highly recommend this book to Christians especially Christian leaders in any capacity.
This is also good for anyone who wants a perspective into what it takes to build a home and a church too. Of course, if you’re a fan of Rivers, you shouldn’t miss out on it!
What are your thoughts? Have you read this book before? Are you interested? Feedback!