“See that he has nothing to fear”

Home Sweet Christmas
Author: Susan Mallery
Publisher: HQN
Pages: 394

Sometimes reading widely can be accidental as in my choosing Home Sweet Christmas by Susan Mallery.
Drawn to reading a Christmas story, I didn’t pay attention to the publisher. If I had, it may have dawned
on me that HQN is a division of Harlequin and I may have passed on it. Even after starting I paused a
couple of times after reading something suggestive and wondered if I wanted to continue.

Fortunately, there were not too many sexual references and they are not explicit. More along the lines of a
movie that implies a couple is sleeping together rather than showing it. For that I’m thankful even though
I was still a little bothered.

My somewhat reluctant decision to continue was amply rewarded when I came to a scene that beautifully
illustrated a scripture verse that one of my favorite authors highlighted. F. W. Boreham, wrote about it in
“On Frightening Timothy” in Mountains in the Mist. Of the many sermons that I have heard, I don’t recall
anyone ever preaching on 1 Cor. 16:10, which begins with “Now if Timothy comes, see that he has
nothing to fear among you ...”. There are so many things to fear today. The world is not a safe,
welcoming place.

When I came to the part of the story where River Best was chosen as the Snow Queen Boreham’s text
came to life. River was terrified! “Her big green eyes were wide and filled with apprehension. She looked
nervous and unsure, as if she wanted to be anywhere but here” (76). I can relate in that I shrink from the
spotlight! I’ll never forget when a former employer was making a presentation to me, he said, “Mike, is
the kind of person that would prefer if I just slipped this under the door.” That was infinitely preferable to
being called to face a crowd! This was River’s predicament.

You can see her apprehension as she approaches the stage. Fortunately, the just previously announced
Snow King, who is kind, is already on the stage and making his way towards her.

“‘It’ll be okay. I’m right here.’
He held out his hand ... She climbed the three stairs, then clutched his hand tightly. ‘I can’t do this,’ she
told him. ‘It’s terrifying.’
‘I’m right here’” (76).
I think of God continually reaching down, taking our hand, saying, “I’m right here.” He reassures. That’s
what I want when terrified.

Boreham was known for using fictional stories to illustrate his sermon points. This story is a fine example
of putting someone at ease. I can see why it’s not a spiritual gift. It’s something that anyone can do.
Imagine a world where people are working to alleviate fear. We become more noble when we set aside
our comfort to make someone less fearful.

The couple in this example is one of two that have intersecting story lines. I enjoyed following their ups
and downs as they approached Christmas. It reads as true to life. Even the occasional references to sex
were not gratuitous.

I like the setting, the characters and the writing. This excels many of the Christmas movies you find on
TV. If you are looking for a Christmas story and can handle a few sexual references this is enjoyable.

I’m grateful for an illustration that I will not forget. More than once I’ve been in that place where I needed
someone to tell me “I’m right here.... You’ll be fine.”

“See that he has nothing to fear,” Paul wrote. The River’s of this life will bless you and be forever grateful
when you take this to heart.

Michael Dalton