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The Witness By Grace Livingston Hill - A Review
He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself. 1 John 5:10 K.J.V.
The Witness is a stirring book to say the least. Written in 1917 it is the story of Paul Courtland an unknowing young man whose life is changed forever because of events occurring on a certain day. I believe the choice of the characters' names was purposeful. The young man in the first chapter is named Stephen Marshall and with that first chapter my heart was wrenched open. So Paul and Stephen meet and while Stephen is ridiculed for his beliefs and for standing up for the Lord, Paul stands there and watches. Not taking part in the ridicule but observing from the sidelines nonetheless. If this scene sounds familiar you have probably read something like it in the Book of Acts. ( See Acts Chapters 6-8 and also Chapter 22)
Sometimes it takes a parable to really see the truth and Livingston Hill's portrayal of Stephen Marshall transports you to the place, makes you feel his resolve, hold your hand to your heart and at the end of it, say just like Courtland did, "God, that was a man!"
Paul is a strong character - loved and admired by all, well off, friendly, an all around "good guy" but when he is surrounded by a haze of smoke he meets someone he had never met before who changes his life forever. At first he thinks it is Stephen but then he is told to look again.When he looks again he exclaims, "You're Stephen Marshall's Christ! The Christ he spoke of!" So is his first meeting with the Lord.
After awakening from the haze of smoke, Paul is resolved to get to know this Christ of Stephen Marshall's but even so, there are those who would have him be who he always was in the past and so they introduce him to a girl named Gila. She is beautiful, Gila is. The type who can look and act as innocent as can be but on the inside there is only venom. Though she tries to wrap him up with her charms and keep him away from the Truth, Paul fights. He has always been determined...full of zeal. He still continues to search. He discovers truths about life that his selfish eyes had never seen before. The poor and suffering become people to him and he feels true sorrow and anguish for them. And he meets Bonnie a young girl with a strong faith in Stephen Marshall's Christ with noone in the world to turn to. Paul remembers Stephen's mother and though he has never met her, he asks her to take the girl in.Away she goes far away and at this point the reader asks the question "Is Gila really going to change? I could have sworn that Bonnie was the one who Paul would give his heart to!" You see it is somewhat of a romance even though I think it is secondary. The lines in this book the strength of some characters, the weaknesses and the wickedness of others are so real, so true that this is one of those books where you have to stop and gasp for air it is so overwhelmingly true it stings. It tells of the battle of a Christian. How hard it is to read another's heart.
Paul's friends also feature in the story and they too choose which road they will follow. Stephen Marshall has impacted them all. Some choose to accept that and seek to find the Truth others choose to sweep it under the rug and to dive into the pleasurable things in life so that they may forget. They succeed in making themselves miserable. And through it all there is Paul. Struggling with himself, fooled for awhile by the deceptiveness of others and finally redeemed.
One of the best Christian Literature classics I have ever read this book is a must have. I truly did not think that this book would be that great - the cover is not attention grabbing and when you read the first page you could be tempted to forfeit but if you dare to turn that page you will never stop until you are through and that book will keep you awake at night even after you have finished it, its words and story echoing in your mind and heart.
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