Nancy Rue’s The Reluctant Prophet, published by David C. Cook, captures the essence of the ill-defined office of a modern day prophet and inserts the perfect individual into that roll—the one who would never picture herself as one or even agree to it if she seriously felt she had a real choice.
And that’s exactly how God often chooses to work. He asks people for their service who perceive themselves as stumbling along in their Christianity, unworthy to do much of anything other than absorb the knowledge of all the things they’re doing wrong. Since God sees the heart and what He’s planted there even before we do or before we’ll admit to noticing our leanings, sometimes those “nudges” can feel more like shoves.
Allison Chamberlain was born to wealthy parents who lacked integrity and other good qualities which Allison realized rather soon in her young life. Her best friend in the world was her nanny Sylvia, regarded as nothing more than a servant by Allison’s parents. When Allison’s antics left her cut out of her family’s considerable wealth, after a time of wandering, she lived with and cared for Sylvia until her death and inherited the house her parents left to the nanny.
Sylvia’s faith contributed to Allison’s eventual conversion seven years prior to when this story begins. When Allison’s small group of believers warn her away from what she’s sure she’s heard from God to do, Allison opts to take God seriously in His outlandish instructions to buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle, a vehicle she’s never once had a desire to own or operate. In fact she’s not even remotely sure she can learn to ride the thing, but there’s no denying who’s in charge of her odd antics once she agrees to do the unthinkable.
As the unmistakable nudges increase in volume and strangeness, Allison watches her church family become as estranged as her real family became. A new cache of friends dressed in leathers replace her old friends and prove their spiritual mettle when the Lord directs Allison to rescue a young addict/prostitute and her too-hip son Desmond after the death of the young woman’s father. Dubbed “Big Al” by the boy and “Miss Angel” by his mom, Allison must once again rescue his mom Geneveve when she disappears not too long after she begins the hard road to recovery, illustrating to Allison just how deep and dangerous the pull can be from the previous life.
With characters the reader can both picture and hear, Nancy portrays all kinds of people with stark realism, amusing humor, relentless compassion, and putting them in true-to-life situations. We can’t help but root for the strength and determination of the plucky and courageous Allison as she fumbles along in the Lord’s care, risking everything for those who’ve become precious to her just as Jesus intended them to be.
The Reluctant Prophet falls into that rare category of well-written with a unique telling of a faith-based story where people appear flawed, confused, off the mark, but finally get it in the end. The subtle romance which rises to the top but is pushed aside with doubt and discomfort plays well with these characters and this story. The tone is perfect for each character, different as they all are, and this is just a very good book with a great cover. I’ve left out a lot of the story here along with the tear-provoking scenes because I don’t want to spoil the experience for potential readers. Well done on so many levels, Nancy Rue.