The Empty Chair is a story of friendship shared by four men and their journey of faith. The death of his first girlfriend makes Jake angry toward God. His disbelief further wells in his heart with the merciless killings he has witnessed in several of his Marine missions. An incident in Nigeria changes his idea of God when a chaplain risks his own life to save him. Jake decides to pursue Chaplaincy in Wake Forest, NC thinking he has a debt to pay. His journey takes a twist when he finds himself in Pakistan after finding that his friend Cameron and his wife Lilly, who are on mission in India, are in danger; Jake does his best to save them, even if it means giving up his own life.
Their lives take some twists and turns and the relationships between the four are developed, including exciting and dramatic events that are based on true stories. Jake’s journey for redemption takes him on an emotional ride and leads him to love and hope that he never expected to find.
This novel follows the friendship of four men as they study to become pastors and chaplains. Jake is a very angry young man who lost his mother early in his life and was then raised by his career Marine father. As soon as he is old enough, he too joins the Marines just to get away from his father. He has absolutely no time for God, but when a chaplain risks his life to save Jake, Jake begins to re-think the path that he is on.
James Davis has written a very compelling story with interesting, well-developed characters. I do not normally read inspirational books, but this one did capture my interest because of the dynamics between the characters. The four men, as well as several other characters in the story, arrive in Wake Forest, NC bearing the burdens of troubled pasts. They find strength from each other as well as many members from the area churches.
The plot is filled with action, which at times is very intense. The descriptions of the various settings in the story are vivid, drawing me right into the battle or into the wonders of a garden. Davis does jump back and forth in time which I found a bit disconcerting. The book begins with a prologue describing an attack on an orphanage run by missionaries, but the story then flips back several years. We don’t find out how the attack ended until the conclusion of the book. Everything in between leads up to the conclusion of the attack, and this technique does work well, over all, but it took awhile for me to connect with the flow.
The story is well-written and it is certainly inspiring no matter what one’s religious views may be. Those who enjoy Christian fiction will most assuredly enjoy this very moving account of the lives of these four men and those around them. It will also be enjoyed by any who believe that all lives are interconnected even if we differ about how those connections are made.