Thursday, April 29, 2010

Love Finds You in Bridal Veil Oregon

There's an interesting story in 1 Chronicles 19 about a misunderstanding turning deadly. King David has been ruling successfully for awhile, and when a king from a neighboring country, Nahash of the Ammonites, dies, David wants to give his regards to the successor, Hanun, Nahash's son, but he doesn't just send a nice sympathy letter, David sends an entire delegation.

Hanun, a new leader, is obviously insecure and worried about the stability of the throne, because when his advisers suggest that the delegation is really full of spies looking for fortifications and weaknesses so David can overthrow Hanun, the new king takes drastic action. He shaves the beards of the delegation and cuts their clothing to expose their buttocks, then sends them on home in disgrace.

When David heard of the humiliation of his representatives, he sent them out of town until their beards grew back so they could return with dignity. He didn't take any more action until hearing that the Ammonites, now realizing that they had really ticked off a major warrior king with thousands of troops at his disposal, had hired 32,000 troops to prepare to attack Jerusalem, which including hiring the Arameans from Aram Maacah, as mercenaries. After hearing about this army mounting against him, David prepared his own troops.

The three nations went to battle, and David's troops laid waste to both Ammon and Aram. The Arameans couldn't run away fast enough when they saw the strength of David's men, and the Ammonites scrambled right behind them. The Arameans quickly sued for peace, and at the end of the chapter it says that they wouldn't have anything more to do with the Ammonites after this. The Ammonites returned to their walled city and probably thanked God that it didn't end any worse that it did. David could have pursued them and laid siege to the city, but instead, he took his army and returned home.

Imagine David and Hanun as two women working in an office, we'll call them Davida and Hannah. Hannah is promoted to a new position within the company, and Davida stops by her office to offer her congratulations. Hannah thinks that Davida really wants the position for herself, so instead of accepting the warm words, she's sarcastic and rude. Davida leaves the office thinking that maybe Hannah needs a little more coffee to get her day off to a good start. But Hannah can't stop thinking about what she said to Davida, and she starts thinking about how she would react in their positions were reversed, and she starts to get angry and nervous about how Davida will retaliate. So the next day at work, she confides to Amy about how Davida is trying to steal Hannah's job. This starts a major whispering campaign within the office with people taking sides, and eventually the boss ends up getting involved because everyone is more focused on the battle royale than work. The three women are called into the boss' office where Hannah tries to get vicious, but Amy backpedals in fear. Davida's strong work ethic speaks for itself. In the end, Hannah is humiliated by her jumping to conclusions, and Amy won't even talk to her anymore, because she can't trust her to tell the truth. Davida returns to her cubicle triumphant in her knowledge that she was redeemed, but probably shaken by the actions of a woman she had only wished well.

This could happen anywhere, at the office, in church, at home. We misinterpret a casual comment, seeing insult where none was intended. We obsess over it, turning it over and over again, then recruit allies before firing an attack, only to be badly burned because it was all a mistake.

In 1 Chronicles, more than 40,000 men died because one man was afraid of what another man was thinking. How many times do we attack because we are afraid that someone else doesn't like us or is talking behind our back? Proverbs 29:12 seems to speak directly about Hanun: When a leader listens to malicious gossip, all the workers get infected with evil. But it applies to us as well. When we listen to lies and gossip, our thoughts become infected with evil.

This is a sin of which I have often been deeply guilty, but since reading this story, whenever I am inclined to see insult where there probably was none, I can't help but think of how Hanun reacted to perceived insult, and how David responded to a direct one. God calls us to be a people of peace, to turn the other cheek, and to pray for our enemies. David is well-known as a man after God's own heart, and as that's a title I want for myself (woman after His heart), I must imitate David, not Hanun, and I call for you to do the same.

Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon by Miralee Ferrell is a thoroughly enjoyable addition to the Love Finds You series. Margaret Garvey thought her chance at love had disappeared four years ago when the man she loved, Nathaniel, left town without her, but Andrew has been reawakening those emotions. However, the secrets she discovers her father had been holding until his death will shake both relationships. Throw in a murder in the small logging town of Bridal Veil, Oregon and a couple of runaways and Margaret is pulled in several directions. Readers will enjoy the suspense as to which man Margaret will choose that is maintained throughout the first half of the novel, as well as how closely Margaret's struggle with faith is tied to her trust in her father. The story about the children isn't as strong, Sammie annoyed me to no end, and the end seemed a bit too tidy. Ferrell does a great job of portraying life in the Northwest with its focus on logging and family. It's the strong characterization of Margaret that makes the novel shine.

Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of this book for review.