Book Review Date: June 1st, 2013
Written by: Rebecca Nichols Alonzo
Rebecca never felt safe as a child.
In 1969, her father, Robert Nichols, moved with his family to Sellerstown, North Carolina, to serve as a pastor. There he found a small community eager to welcome him… with one exception. Glaring at him from pew number seven was a man obsessed with controlling the church and determined to get rid of anyone who stood in his way.
The first time the Nichols family received a harassing phone call, they dismissed it. The same went for the anonymous letter that threatened they’d leave “crawling or walking…dead or alive.” But what they couldn’t ignore was the strategy of terror their tormentor unleashed, more devastating and violent than they could have ever imagined. Refusing to be driven away, Rebecca’s father stood his ground until one night when an armed man walked into the family’s kitchen… and Rebecca’s life was shattered.
If anyone had reason to harbor hatred and seek personal revenge, it would be Rebeca. Yet The Devil in Pew Number Seven tells a different story. It is the amazing, true saga of relentless persecution, one family’s faith and courage in the face of it, and a daughter whose parents taught her the power of forgiveness.
This book really intrigued me. It seems forgiveness has been a topic of a lot of the books I’ve read lately (between and during the reading of the ones I’ve posted here) and so the idea has been on my mind a lot. I think forgiveness is something we all wish we could do better, even if at the same time we also don’t at all. (If that makes any sense). The whole idea of: “Forgive everyone everything” is no simple feat. Often we don’t forgive because we’ve been wronged and we believe those who have wronged us don’t deserve to “get off easy” by being forgiven. But, at least for me, I am always amazed by what people can and do forgive. I am amazed and inspired by those people. I want to be that kind of person. I think this book really shows how possible that is… and how difficult it can be. I really liked this story. The fact that its non-fiction is incredible and sad and inspiring. I’ll be honest, I was thrown off for a while by the writing style. It had a distracting amount of similes and metaphors, especially early on. But I was so interested in the story itself that I was able to push past that, and by the end I was not distracted by it at all. Aside from that small negative, I really enjoyed this story.
- The fresh images of what had transpired moments ago mocked me with the fact that my worst fears had just come true.
- What might happen gave way to what had happened.
- Desperation wasn’t attractive, no matter how nicely she was dressed.
- Love had wounded him before. The last thing he wanted to do was make the same mistake twice.
- Coming to the end of ourselves always brings us to a place where we find Jesus.
- The blame game was a game with no winners.
- Regrets for what he might have done differently gave way to nagging questions about God’s hand in the matter.
- The more you love someone, the more you have to lose when that someone decides you’re no one.
- She knew there was nothing that could change the past, and with courage, they would once again face the future.
- …with God in one’s heart there is love, for God is love.
- …Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Part of loving our enemies, she explained, included forgiving them when they wronged us — even if they hadn’t asked for forgiveness. Even if they weren’t sorry.
- …his face remained in the company of dark shadows.
- …I had to feed on the Word of God if I was to have any hope of resting at night.
- …the first child is a gift to the parents and the second child is a gift to the first child.
- …while playing with friends was a treat, I now had a real live baby doll to smother with love. I took my responsibility as a big sister as seriously as if I had been assigned with the duty of protecting the crown jewels of England.
- It takes a tough man to turn the other cheek.
- …the voices of discouragement reverberating in his head battled for dominion over his heart.
- What he needed were words of peace and comfort — not the voice of confusion.
- The conflicting emotions tore at my heart until I thought it would tear in half.
- Though my feet were at rest for the time being, my mind knew no such peace. It churned with questions.
- I’m not sure how long I slept, but I awoke in the uneasy dream that had become my life.
- …there was nothing they could do to scrub away the memories that hung in the air like dark phantoms.
- I wanted to forget. I wanted to remember. I had difficulty doing either. A tug-of-war between equally compelling needs raged within me.
- …I counted the hours, wishing for each new day to come quickly to an end. As far as I was concerned, the faster the better. Every day that passed would separate me further from the events I had experienced; the greater the distance, the more I’d be able to leave behind the sting…
- It was the little things that seemed to rub salt in my wounded soul.
- The scriptures don’t paint a rosy picture for those who follow the Lord. Daddy knew full well that Jesus promised, “In the world ye shall have tribulation.
- …his constant questioning about his decision to stay acted like a stage-four cancer. The speculations devoured his inner being, reducing him to a shell of his former self.
- I wished I could have unzipped the darkness and the depressive atmosphere at home and crawled out to where there was light.
- You can’t blink away a thought in the dark.
- Now the words ran through my mind as a reminder that the promise he had made had been broken.
- I wanted to move forward with my life but felt as if I had been stuck on the pause button. I didn’t want to accept the fact that there were things in my life I couldn’t change — forget about trying to deal with the nitty-gritty of living in the present.
- …I have an opportunity to display God’s love whenever I offer forgiveness in the face of hatred, personal betrayal, and persecution. When I forgive, that act of divinely inspired grace allows me to become a light in a dark world, pointing the way to Jesus. Make no mistake about it. People are observing you and me to see how we, as Christians, deal with the hard knocks of life. When they see that we’ve been wronged, offended, wounded, ripped off, shortchanged, or “done a wrong turn,” our response can either attract those who are watching us to the Savior or give them yet another excuse not to follow Him.
- …while I can think of nothing more important than to be a living tribute to His grace, this can be a challenge when you’ve been hurt as deeply as I have been wounded. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s easy for the bitterness from the past to surface and weasel its ugly taproot into my heart.
- I didn’t ask for this abrasion on my soul to be a part of my life; it just is. Now, day after day, I have the choice to forgive [those] who took so much from me, or I can choose to wallow in a toxic brew of bitterness.
- In this fallen world, all of us have had — or will soon experience — wrongdoing at the hands of others.
- You and I cannot walk away from what’s been done to us.
- Being quick to forgive, then, prevents bitterness from keeping my heart captive to the wrong that’s been done to me…
- Forgiveness is a choice, she said, not a feeling.