Friday, November 4, 2011

The Encounter - Stephen Arterburn

In "The Encounter" by Stephen Arterburn, we meet Jonathan Rush, an entrepreneur, tortured by bitterness towards his mother who abandoned him when he was four years old.  After counseling with his pastor, Jonathan travels back to Alaska to do research on his birth mother and get to the root of his anger and resentment, which is effecting all areas of his life.  Jonathan meets local female report, Erica Bingham, who is curious about Jonathan's story and decides to help him in his search, 'off the record'.  Jonathan also meet an old woman known as Mercy, who has the information Jonathan is seeking but she's reluctant to talk to him.  Jonathan needs to find a way to persuade the frightened woman to help unlock the secrets of his past.  As the story continues, it simultaneously takes the reader through the emotions of both Jonathan (his feelings of abandonment and anger) and those of his mother, Ada (the inadequacy she feels at being a mother and shame). The story nicely intertwines the story of both mother and son with how God loves and accepts us, as we are, in the moment we're in. The book includes an invitation to the readers to verify the facts of their own stories, to accept the reality of their existence, especially the most painful ones, and to live in forgiveness. The end result is a healthy new way to look at life with an ability to share hope with others for the future. Healing is possible but requires truth, acceptance, and forgiveness, including of oneself.  Arterburn tells of two true stories that merged in his mind to create this parable. He talks about lessons he’s learned along the way and asks follow-up questions to help the reader consider more. This is a quick read, but it really draws the reader in and keeps you there throughout the entire story.

I would like to thank BookSneeze for the complimentary copy of this book for my review.


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