Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Hand that Bears the Sword by George Bryan Polivka

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

An intriguing account filled with high seas adventure, a mysterious creature, and two kingdoms at war  – all interwoven with the truths and display of Almighty God. Spiritual transformations and deepening faith occur all throughout this account while Packer Throme and his new wife, Panna, struggle to honor God in the face of adversity and uncertainty. How is he to pray when the entire crew considers him a hero, and yet he is reluctant to kill? How does she stay true to her marriage while a prisoner of the prince and learning of his dishonorable character? Many lives are lost in this war, but some are gained as the reality of God’s grace is seen and understood for the first time.

Positives: There is a clear gospel message with the need for repentance toward a holy and sovereign God, and that faith alone in the sacrifice of Christ alone is the basis for salvation. Also a factor in this tale is another law (like Scripture) that is followed by the enemy. The depiction of this world is timeless in regards to human nature, culture, and the many different ways that people perceive and respond to God and His people.

Negatives: Some violence due to war setting (I chose to conceal some of the more graphic parts from my son)

Talking Points:  There is no naivete when it comes to the exposure of characters who willfully defy and curse God, continuing in their rebellion toward Him even unto death. This shows plainly the biblical truth that the gate is narrow and the path hard that leads to eternal life. (Matt. 7:13-14) But even more powerful is the life-changing ability that He has in lives that formerly lived for themselves, then encountered the truth of their sin and need for forgiveness (Eph. 2:1-5). Even the cowardly prince in the end freely gives up his life to save another, having himself finally been reconciled to His Maker. This book covers a full range of walks of life (fishermen and seminarians, warriors and royalty), as well as different stages of relating to God --  struggling to honor Him in the darkest moments, simple and humble service to Him, and even some who know the Truth but choose to remain in darkness. God’s faithfulness to those who uphold His commands is clear, even when this means that they suffer.

This writing has so many various elements and facets of its storytelling that it will stretch younger readers and keep us older ones riveted. I was very pleased to see sinful human nature and the amazing grace of God portrayed so biblically.

One topic that is weaved throughout the book is one that you may or may not have had much occasion to speak with your children about. It is the issue of marital infidelity. Although it does not occur, there is certainly the opportunity and desire for it on the part of Prince Ward with Panna, Packer’s wife. He keeps her in the palace while Packer is gone and mostly treats her well, but the reader is privy to the longings of his heart. He also struggles with it, knowing it is wrong (good lead-in for talking about our struggle between flesh and spirit – Rom. 7, application to believers). There are times that he does make advances, and she repeatedly refuses him, even physically defending herself. She is a good example of faithfulness in what could be a tempting situation. The writer very clearly draws the parallel to King David and Bathsheba’s adultery, opening up a window into this well-known Old Testament event that is followed up by David’s repentance (Psalm 51) and the consequence of their baby’s death (2 Sam. 11-12). A great time to discuss the recognition of sin, heartfelt repentance, restoration to the Lord, and the reality of the results of sin – all against the backdrop of a holy God (Rev. 4:8).

Age Level: 11 and up

No comments:

Post a Comment