I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It introduced some more characters from the series, including Leon Fortunato, Cameron "Buck" Williams, and Abdullah "Smitty" Ababneh. It followed the storylines of Nicolae, Rayford, Irene, Buck, and Smitty, and I enjoyed reading how they each got to the point where they were at the beginning of the series itself. Definitely a good read! Kept my attention - considering it took me less than 48 hours to read it lol - left that hook at the end of each chapter that wouldn't allow me to put the book down, just had to keep reading to see what happened next!
There were a couple spots in the book that impacted me personally, I'd like to touch on those.
The first was when Irene was visiting Rayford's parents in the home they lived in. They both had Alzheimer's, though the father was a lot worse than the mother. This is after Irene had found Jesus and let Him into her heart, and she was trying to reach Rayford's parents. On one visit, when the father was lucid, she told him about Christ, but before they could get through the conversation, he lost touch with reality again. But Irene did manage to tell him that God loves him, and turns out he ended up thinking a lot about that after that day. Then comes to the part that spoke to me. Irene was visiting him again, and he was having another good day, and here's what their conversation was, starting with the father:
"I had to figure out what else made me feel so empty, and I think you were right. I don't think I ever got the God thing right."
"The God thing?"
"It was never personal for me. It was just something I did. Something I was raised in, felt comfortable with. But it never really meant anything to me. There had to be more. I mean, if there's really a God, there has to be more."
"He loves you."
"I know. You told me that. And it keeps coming back to me. Every so often when I can concentrate, that echoes in my mind and I don't know what to make of it. Jesus died for the sins of the world, but does that make me a sinner? I've never been perfect, Lord knows. But I never felt like a sinner before either. Maybe I do now."
"Well, sure. I must be. Everybody must be. Otherwise, what's Jesus dying for? That's what's got me so off-kilter. I can't get my mind around it. I always saw God as a concept, a belief system, something you do on Sundays, and all that. But if He loves me, I ought to love Him. I don't love God, Irene."
It hit me how so many of us think the way this father was thinking. Do we really truly believe that Christ died for our sins? Or do we just go to church because that's just what you should do on Sundays? To be honest, I sometimes get to a point where I question myself about that... And again, after reading that, I questioned myself again. Do I truly whole-heartedly believe that I am a sinner and Jesus died so that I could be reunited with God? Without wanting to boast - because really, what have I done? - but I do believe it. I believe with everything that I am that Jesus loves me enough to actually do that for me. And not just me! I get humbled, that's for sure... I mean, who am I, really? This worthless sinner who deserves to go to Hell. But because God loves me so much more than I can understand, He has made a way for me to be able to come back to Him, through Christ Jesus. I am not worthy of any of it, but because of it, I can call myself a child of God, and I can be assured that I am going to Heaven one day =)
Another part that hit kinda close to home was when Cameron was talking to his sister-in-law about church. The background story is that when Cameron and his brother were old enough to decide for themselves, they left the church, just stopped going all together, and never went back. So now, she asked Cameron where he stood with God, and Cameron says to her, "I gotta tell ya, Sharon, if the church we grew up in is what God is all about, He's boring. And I mean boring." She has the greatest answer:
"Well, that church is not representative; I can tell you that. And that's the problem. At least you and Jeff were honest and on the right track getting out of there. Your mistake - forgive me for being so blunt - was that you thought all churches were the same. So once you were out of that church, you were out altogether."
I've seen this happen with a few people. One person in particular - whom I won't name for their privacy - has left their church and never even tried to find another church. It saddens me when I see this, when they assume that all churches are the same. They're not! Church services can be very different! Some worship in one way, others worship another way. But it is the Church as a whole - the Body of Christ - that we need to keep within. As the Bible says (1 Corinthians 12:12-31), we cannot all be a hand, or an eye. There are many different parts to the body, each one different, each one doing their own part of helping the Body.
I am definitely looking forward to reading more of the books, but there are some cross-stitch projects I need to get done, and so I think I will work on getting those done before I dive into the full series. Until next time my friends! =)