The other day, before heading off for surgery, I went to our little "mom & pop" Christian bookstore in town. It is a quaint little place, run by a sweet older lady, with her hubby's barbershop in the next room. They never have very much, just a small assortment of Bibles, Cd's and Christian reading material, but she does always manage to have a book that I have yet to read. That day would be no different. I remember spotting it right away, there in big bold type at the bottom of the cover was "Francine Rivers."
I was so excited, for at first I thought it might be the sequel to a book I had read this summer while on vacation, but quickly realized it wasn't. However, I didn't care, it was by Francine Rivers and I hadn't read it, and I needed some good reading material at hand for the days ahead. I paid for it and took it home, having no idea what a treasure the book truly would be.
I love a good work of fiction. When it has a happy ending and a bunch of "feel good moments" I like it even better. When it is fiction based on truth, well sometimes I come away smiling, KNOWING the book will be read again by me, and then sometimes I come away wishing I didn't know the truth, wishing for the "happily ever after" moments. This book just plum left me thinking, yearning and wanting MORE.
The fact that it was based on the Bible, well I think Mrs. Francine Rivers allowed God to use her in a special way, when writing this piece of work, even if it was just for me. I don't usually do book reviews, and I was certainly not asked to write this one, but I have felt the need to pass the title along, as well as share a few of my thoughts...
"A Lineage of Grace" took the stories five women and opened up their hearts for us to see. Yes, I know that it is only one woman's perspective, but by attempting to display "what might have happened," I was allowed a deeper look into the lives of five women, I might normal just skip over in a reading of the lineage of Christ.
I teach kindergarten Sunday School. I know Mary is the mother of Jesus, Bathsheba was the mother of Solomon, Ruth loved her mother-in-law and Rahab helped the Israelites. Tamar? Well, I'm not sure she ever fit in the kindergarten literature at all. I guess what I am saying is this; although I had studied a little about some of these women, outside my preschool teaching, I don't think I ever studied their lives with one thought in mind. THEY ALL WERE SINNERS AND WERE CHOSEN TO BE IN THE LINEAGE OF CHRIST.
Can I just say "WOW!?" I mean, when you dig really deep into the lives of these women and all they had to go through, to be recognized for who they were, you have to ask yourself "WHY DID THEY DO IT?" Many of them started out of different faiths. Many of them were not raised to have faith at all. Most of these women were not taught to have "hope." Yet, every single one of them did.
They were strong women in the sense that they gave everything they had to a god, they sometimes didn't understand or know on a personal level. They were hurt and shown great love, they messed up and were given grace, they expected nothing and were blessed and they were obedient till the end.
I am left thinking "what would I have done?" I mean, I was raised to know the one true God. I started hearing His name while I was still in the womb. I always knew about His forgiveness, even in those crazy teenage years, when I wanted to do what I wanted to do. I knew about His love and blessings, for I was raised with two Godly parents who reaped the rewards of His love over and over, even when things got tough. I married a minister, so being obedient to His message is a part of our daily lives.
Yet, where do I stand in my faith?
How many times have I got so caught up in myself, that I forget to view the BIGGER PICTURE?
How many times have I discarded what I knew in my heart was the right thing to do, yet didn't want to take the TIME to be obedient?
How many times have I NOT let the GRACE of the Lord wash over me, letting go of the past and moving forward?
How many times...
The last few months for me have not been easy ones. Sickness, missed pay checks, crazy schedules, frustration. Some days have been full of tears, even anger. Yet, when I look back over those days, I can see the hand of God. His love was shown to me through the sacrifices of my family and all they have done for me. I have been blessed by cards, phone calls, dinners and even money, when needed. Most of all, I have been graced with PEACE.
Now I may have had to come through the fire and take a look back to see some of the blessings. For that I am sad, wishing my faith had shown up stronger during certain moments. However, I can always aspire to do better. After reading this book, I was encouraged even more.
God doesn't expect us to be perfect people. He already knows there is NO WAY we can be. He NEVER said this life would be easy either. What He did promise is that HE WOULD BE THERE. It is up to us to just simply BELIEVE that...
Hope you are having a beautiful Sunday full of love, hope and faith.