“The Encounter” by Stephen Arterburn. Thomas Nelson Publishers. Religion/ Christian Living/ General. $15.99 US
“The Encounter” is a parable. For those not too familiar with that term, it is a story that teaches a lesson. In this case, the story is of forgiveness given and received. The parallel to God’s forgiveness is unmistakable.
Jonathon Rush is an incredibly successful businessman from Miami who is haunted by the mother who gave him up at the age of 4. He is convinced that she must have hated him to give him away. His adoptive parents were wealthy and compassionate and her learned unconditional love from them. But when they are tragically killed, he reverts to unresolved anger issues. A series of bad decisions lands him in the hospital following a suicide attempt and in counseling with a pastor, Tim, who convinces him to return to his native Alaska for answers.
From Miami to Fairbanks Johnathon travels in search of his mother. But he does not even know her name. Through a series of encounters with a driver, pastor, and reporter, he slowly unravels the mystery surrounding his mother, but she still eludes him.
At the same time Ada Gutherie has been keeping track of her son from afar. She knows of his arrival in Alaska and attempts to see him. After a quick glimpse she returns to her dry cabin in the woods. While she longs to meet him she is ashamed and afraid.
The parable is well constructed and realistic. It shows the emotions and consequences of decisions. But most of all, God’s grace is portrayed and forgiveness is both given and received. The book includes a chapter of the real life example that inspired the story as well as discussion questions for group or individuals.
Easy to read and enjoyable. Would be good for small group to read and discussion. Excellent for a book club wanting to go a little deeper.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Thomas Nelson as a member of Book Sneeze, review team. All opinions expressed are my own.’