Bridge to Haven, Francine Rivers
Reviewed by Karen Mudge
Abra Matthews longs to feel loved and wanted.
Francine Rivers weaves the story of a baby girl abandoned under a bridge in her first hours of life, incorporating themes of belonging and worth with the glitz and glam of 1950s America.
Pastor Ezekiel Freeman, on his morning prayer walk around the town of Haven, rescues the baby and names her Abra. Throughout her childhood Abra is cared for by the people of Haven, and yet never truly feels loved. Turning her back on all those who she feels don’t love her, she sets out for Los Angeles to become someone: “I want to live somewhere exciting where people have fun!”
Woven into the story is the power of prayer and the importance of trusting God with those whom we love. When at 16 Abra is lured to Hollywood by a fast-talking charmer, those who love Abra are left without knowledge of her wellbeing. Unable to do anything to rescue her from her own choices, they turn repeatedly to God, who loves her more than they do.
When Abra runs away, Pastor Zeke says to his son: “Letting go isn’t giving up. It’s trusting God to do whatever He has to do. He loves her more than I do…more than all of us put together…All you can do is trust in God’s unfailing love.” “I have to do something, or go crazy.” Joshua sank onto the couch again, covered his head, and wept. He felt his father’s hand firm on his shoulder. “We will do something.” His hand tightened. “We’ll pray for her.”
Feeling the characters’ helplessness, knowing their suffering and watching them consistently seek God’s peace is a powerful demonstration of trust in our heavenly father.
Meanwhile, Abra’s journey away from Haven to Los Angeles reveals the danger in succumbing to the lure of appearances. As she moves from one situation to the next, becoming part of the enticing world of Hollywood in the 1950s, Abra learns the hard way that success comes at a price. She really does become someone, and yet in doing so loses her sense of self in an even greater way.
Bruised and battered, she longs even more to be loved for who she is, yet believes all her bridges are burnt and that she cannot return to those who loved her in Haven.
When she hits rock bottom, Abra finally begins to realise that to move forward, she needs to return to the past and mend old wounds. The message of God’s love for her, which she was never able to accept as a child, reveals itself to her in full measure as she comes to understand the reality of forgiveness, amazing grace and the love of God and those who were in her life from the beginning.
“Yes, her mother had abandoned her, but God hadn’t… ‘You love me, Lord. In spite of my stubborn and rebellious heart.’”
Francine Rivers takes inspiration from Ezekiel 16, where God speaks of His chosen people as an unwanted newborn whom He cared for, watched over, and eventually chose as His bride, despite her rejection of Him.
The story of Abra brings to life this image of God’s love for his helpless, rebellious people, and leads the reader to reflect on the amazing love God has for us.
– See more at: http://www.biblesociety.org.au/news/bridge-haven#sthash.iyAycdIu.dpuf