“But the point is that we have to be willing to obey (God) and follow Him, even at a great cost to ourselves and to the things we love.” (Waves of Mercy, Lynn Austin, pg. 163)
Growing up as a Separatist from the Church of the Netherlands was difficult in the 1840’s. Persecution dwelt around every corner for Geesje and her family, from rocks being thrown through windows, to slogans being painted on their family’s print shop and home, to not even being allowed to worship God with more than 20 people at a time. As a teenager, Geesje has very little say when her family decides to escape the religious persecution with other Separatists and migrate to America to start a new colony in Michigan. She leaves behind a city she loves and was raised in and a soldier beau, Hendrick, that she has promised to “wait” for and makes the long trek to America with her family.
50 years later, Geesje is an elderly lady living in Holland, Michigan, a city that her family helped colonize. Being one of the “old timers” of the community, she is asked to write a memoir of when the colony was settled to be part of the city’s anniversary booklet. Not quite sure where to begin, Geesje tells of the trials that were faced along the journey to Michigan; of fires on the ship, of the colony coming down with malaria and the tragic passing of people she loves, including her parents, which leaves her alone with her father’s printing apprentice, Maarten, who traveled to America with them who she has known for most of her life and two orphaned children. At a point of dire straits, Geesje begs Maarten to help her move back to the Netherlands, but she finds out her beau, Hendrick is on his way to America to be with her. When she finds out Hendrick has died in a shipwreck on Lake Michigan, so close to being with her, Geesje is devastated and feels she has no other option than to marry Maarten, whom has taken care of her and has always had feelings for her, but whom she does not love. Looking back Geesje sees how God has been there for every part of her life and even at times when she has not sought His counsel, that He has still made all things turn out for good for her.
Geesje shows her story to her “nephew”, and Hendrick’s grandson, Derk, who has always been interested in learning her history. In the meantime, Derk meets a young lady at the hotel he works for that shares a strong resemblance to Geesje’s granddaughter, but is not her. He befriends Anna and they immediately start to form a strong bond. As Derk gets to know Anna more, he sees some similarities in Anna’s life and Geesje’s and finding out she is adopted into a family in Chicago’s elite, begins to question who her parents could have been.
Anna who is betrothed to William has questions of her own about her birth family and who she is to God. She escapes to Holland, Michigan to the grand Hotel Ottawa for a vacation with her adoptive mother after William breaks their engagement due to not agreeing with a church she started attending. Anna feels empty inside and seeks the vacation to discover what God’s will is for her life.
As an avid reader, I have enjoyed many fiction books, but I can’t recall many times that a fiction book has ministered to me like this one has. Perhaps it is the circumstances I am going through right now, but all through the book the message to trust God, no matter the cost is echoed over and over. And it’s not one of those books that is difficult to read because it’s so unreal with its emphasizing the mercy of God and His divine intervention throughout life- not at all. But rather, it’s just a gentle reminder that God is always there and the characters have very real trials and convictions and sometimes we really just need to trust Him for His will be to done in our lives because He truly has our best interest in mind. This is a novel that is acceptable for all chapter book readers. There are no racy scenes or anything that I wouldn’t want my children reading. Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin is a book you will want to read and I trust that it will minister to you as well.
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I received this book free courtesy of Bethany House Publisher’s Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review.