Biblical Fiction / Literature
Paperback / 5.5″ x 8.5″ / 192 pp.
During the time of Jesus’ earthly life, a young wife and mother named Joakima delights herself in her husband and young son while dreaming of a promised Deliverer. Then, when trauma and tragedy break into this young woman’s life, they leave her broken, bitter and filled with shame. Her suffering is intensified by the crushing weight of religious regulations and the chafing yoke of political oppression.
During a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, a seed of hope is planted deep within Joakima’s heart through the compassion of an extraordinary youth. Gradually, the words of the prophet Isaiah begin to come alive to her. The eyes of compassion and the words of release even visit her dreams until, years later, she comes face-to-face with Love Himself.
This debut novel delves into the pathos of 1st Century Israel and explores the psychological, spiritual, and relational conflicts suggested in Luke chapter 13. The scriptures briefly describe the bent-over woman who could not ‘in any way’ look upward. A ‘spirit of infirmity’ had kept her bound for eighteen long years, looking downward. Yet Jesus called her a ‘daughter of Abraham’, indicating her faith. The author has given the name ‘Joakima’ to this broken, spirit-oppressed woman who is unnamed in the Bible.
Joakima’s dramatic healing in the religious meeting place is immediately and strongly opposed. All the threads of longings, conflicts, false hopes and real hopes that weave throughout the novel, come together in the climax—in sometimes surprising ways.
“I have been accustomed to getting ‘into’ the minds of Bible characters, but I was completely overwhelmed at the story of Joakima. Lawton gently opens up the mind and heart of this woman who had lost almost everything…. By the time she finally and quite dramatically met Jesus the Christ, and rose up before Him, face to face, I found myself unable to hold back the tears of joy. In my quiet living room, thousands of years after that day and far from the crowd of people gathered in the synagogue, I praised God … and was immediately drawn into a time of meeting Him face to face myself.
− Susan Elaine Jenkins, author of Scandalon
“I recommend this gripping story to anyone who loves the Bible and enjoys having its stories come alive. The characters are portrayed in a very believable way. Having lived in Israel for over 30 years, I can attest to the accuracy of the author’s descriptions in terms of geography, customs, etc. I hope that Lawton will write more books along this line.”
− Judith Galblum Pex, author of Walk the Land and Come, Stay, Celebrate!
“I was fascinated.”
− Eva Marie Everson, author of Reflections of God’s Holy Land and Slow Moon Rising
“Building upon the Biblical narrative, Catherine weaves a riveting fictional account of Joakima, a contented young wife in a town near the Jordan River. Joakima’s world revolves around her God, her husband, and her infant son. Suddenly, in the very shadow of the Temple, disaster strikes. Joakima’s simple, happy life is tragically shattered. Grief-stricken and grotesquely crippled, she is left alone to care for her infant son. Throughout the bitter nightmare of pain-filled days and sleepless nights, Joakima clings to a slender thread of hope … the stirring words of the prophet Isaiah: ‘Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive Daughter of Zion.’ And then one day, Joakima comes face to face with Jesus, and is forever changed. Face to Face is a story that will stay with you long after the last page is read.”
− Anne M. Faidley, Hope Chest Magazine