I’ve been amazed at how God has been leading me over the past year, putting important reading matter before me, giving me options to choose studies, and guiding me into new, richly rewarding friendships. Last fall, I attended a Bible study group focusing on how to live intentionally, and then, I was able to choose a spiritual growth book from Book Look Bloggers called Lean on Me which looked at “intentional, vulnerable, and consistent community”. When I saw this title The Heart of the Amish available for the May Revell Book Blog Tour, I knew I had to sign on for it. In her introduction, Fisher says “The reason I started this book . . . was because I have felt so impacted (convicted might be a better word) by [the Amish belief in] intentional forgiveness.” Do you see a pattern here? — Intentional forgiveness.
There is no limit to God’s goodness and forgiveness, and the Amish believe
that to forgive an enemy — so contrary to human nature — is to follow God’s instructions on forgiveness, as well as His example. And they don’t just seek to forgive. They also love and bless those enemies.
One of their pithy proverbs states, “You can stop forgiving others when God stops forgiving you.”
Based on Biblical references and many true stories solicited through advertising from Amish and Mennonite believers, as well as from personal experience, Fisher divides her book into two parts: dealing with everyday slights and grudges, and surviving incredible tragedies that have the potential to totally destroy us if it were not for the understanding of the healing power of forgiveness. Each short retelling is followed by probing questions for reflection to connect it to our personal lives, to help us draw on God’s strength in changing our own lives to ones free of the harmful effects of grudges, blaming, shame, and revenge — our real natures. Whether it’s the story of two young girls who usually were able to resolve their squabbles with a stick of Juicy Fruit gum, the learning of forgiving with distance or boundaries without closing the door for reconciliation with someone who isn’t trustworthy, or the families of the young victims of the Nickel Mine Schoolhouse murders who, in the midst of their grief, extended their forgiveness to the family of the shooter, the underlying truth remains, “We can hand over to God our wounds and worries, grudges and battle scars, trusting that He will see us through to the end.”
This book tells very moving, true stories with clear messages about how forgiveness works and the benefits it bestows on both the giver and the receiver mentally, emotionally, and physically. For the Amish, it is their way of life. If forgiveness is practiced in the small daily things, it will carry over and sustain you through the tragedies of life. The Amish don’t expect life to be fair, but they do expect that God can “bring redeeming moments out of unspeakable tragedy” and that the way toward that is through forgiveness.
I feel that I’ll be rereading parts of this book again and again, and doing some of the reflections in a very meaningful, life-changing way. Ms Fisher has cut to the heart of the matter of forgiveness and redemption and there is no way to read this book and remain untouched. * * * * *
I received this book free from Revell Books, Baker Publishing in exchange for an honest review.