I am asked to review lots of books. Lots. You should see the stack of books on my nightstand.
It is a wonderful opportunity, and I love to read them. However, in the sea of books, it is very rare that one completely and totally captures me from page 1. In general, I will read some of one book, then move to another book, back to the first book, and so on. Not with the book I am about to tell you about you. I stayed up waaaaay too late on several nights to immerse myself in it.
If you don’t have time to read my whole review, read just this:
“Love Story by Nichole Nordeman is the best book of 2013. If you want fresh eyes to see familiar Bible “stories”, have never heard of the Bible, or only have time to read one book this whole year…. read this book.”
In Love Story : The Hand That Holds Us From The Garden To The Gate, Nichole does the impossible. She opens my eyes to see old, familiar Bible “stories” (that I have recited since I was four years old) in a fresh, new way. She beautifully weaves personal stories with familiar Bible “characters” to breathe new life into the chronicle of their time here. These characters include Adam and Eve, Job, Daniel, Moses, David, Jesus, Paul, and many more.
The inside cover of the book describes Love Story as “achingly beautiful”, and I agree that is the perfect description.
I was blessed to be raised in a Christian home and to accept Christ at a very young age. However, the negative side of that blessing is that my heart seems to become calloused to Bible verses or stories in a way to prevents me from really seeing the beauty and wonder in each one. That’s why this passage from Love Story really resonated with me:
“There are moments when I’ve wished that I had made a decision to follow Christ as an adult and not as a second grader. Even just now, I had to backspace that sentence three times trying to avoid the easy churchspeak. Follow Christ? Ask Jesus into my heart? Accept Christ? Become a believer? Don’t misunderstand me. I am eternally grateful for a childhood marked with biblical instruction and careful guidance from my parents, teachers, pastors, and the like. … You can’t say enough about a strong foundation. But learning to speak that familiar language of faith at such a young age has left me with a well-worn vocabulary and a listless way of experiencing my own salvation. Lukewarm. I will certainly take credit for my own apathy and for allowing the work of the cross to become distant, sentimental… decorative, even.
When, I wonder, did I stop being astonished?
Was I ever?”
~ Love Story, Nichole Nordeman
Nichole has an uncanny way of putting my thoughts into words on a page. As I read Love Story, I had to stop several times and wipe away tears that were slipping down my cheeks — either from laughing from her humor or from crying because of her beautiful words. Sometimes both at the same time. A couple times, I actually put my hand over my own mouth, completely surprised at something she said!
… and then I had to chuckle a little because I thought the same thing, but never would have been brave enough to actually say it.
Love Story changed the way I read the Bible. Instead of reading the stories in a way that I could recite from memory, this book challenges me to stop and really think about the person in the Bible and to think about the God who beautifully created their story for a specific purpose. After all, He also created my life for a specific purpose.
Francine Rivers, author of Redeeming Love (one of my all-time favorite books), once said that the purpose of her books is to share her Christ-centered world view within her stories. Her hope is that the audience will read her book and want to pick up their Bible to investigate it more after reading one of her books. Love Story is the same type of book for me. After reading it, I have a hunger to go dig into the Bible and learn new things about these familiar names and stories.
I will read this book many more times. Love Story is the perfect book for personal study, or to share with a small group or Bible study. Be prepared, though, to be challenged to open your heart to be transparent and honest, about yourself and your preconceived ideas of Bible “stories”. Be prepared to capture a glimpse of God’s immeasurable love for you and how He can transform your life. Be ready to stop “acting like” a Christian and using all of the right terminology, but to instead let God meet you wherever you are and watch as he transforms your life.
Oh, and “Jesus and Glitter Cows”? Let’s just say God is creating a masterpiece in you right now… you’ll have to read Love Story to get the whole sparkly story.
Nichole, thank you for writing this book. It inspired me in so many ways in how I live, love, relate to others, share Christ, do “churchspeak”, and I am truly thankful. I am challenged to write from the heart and inspired to imitate your truthful bravery (even if I’m taking baby steps). If I ever write a book, I can only pray that it will come across as honestly and raw as Love Story does… achingly beautiful.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”