I love to get lost in a book. I love to block out real life, and travel to another time and place. Through books, I’ve experienced everything from war to romance to space travel. Well, not much space travel . . . I’m not much of a science fiction girl. But the war and romance stuff, back in the Renaissance era with those great dresses and the hunky heroes and the drafty castles . . . I love that stuff. Yes, I’m a sappy romantic, and I’m not ashamed.
I’ve recently started Jan Karon’s In the Company of Others. I read in the evenings to help me relax, and I do love me some Father Tim. For those of you who haven’t jumped on the Mitford bandwagon, Father Tim is an Episcopal priest who thought he’d live out his days as a bachelor, but falls in love and marries late in life.
I love the way he loves Cynthia. It’s a sweet, enduring passion that causes him to think she’s sexy in flannel, causes him to get butterflies in his stomach when he sees her smile and knows she’s happy. It’s the kind of real, practical, everyday love most women dream of.
I’m reading another book in the mornings. This book is more adventuresome than romantic, though it does contain plenty of romance. And the adventures are more of the raw, dark kind that do happen in real life, but that nobody likes to talk about much.
I wake up, start the coffee, and get out my Bible. Then I shuffle back to my bed, crawl beneath my covers, turn on the lamp, and yawn a couple more times before I begin that day’s passage. Since it’s a new year, I decided to start at the beginning.
Genesis. Creation and naming the animals and cute little Noah’s arks and all that. A little light reading to start each day.
So far in my reading, I’ve encountered murder, incest, rape, prostitution, drunkenness, theft, and more codependent, dysfunctional families than I can name here. That’s all in the first book of the Bible, and I’m not even finished with it yet. Talk about a waker-upper. Seriously. I couldn’t go back to sleep after reading all that, even if I wanted to.
All those heinous sins were committed by God’s own people. His chosen people. In spite of the fact that they knew better.
With every new tragedy, every new story, I’m learning about God’s grace. His mercy. His compassion. And I’m reminded, time and again, that nothing we do, nothing we experience takes God by surprise. He’s seen it all before. He knew it was going to happen. And He loves us anyway.
He knew all about our goof-ups and life crises long ago, and figured out how to use them for our good. He used Jacob’s lies and schemes and trickery to begin the nation of Israel. Later, he used Joseph’s jealous brothers selling him into slavery to save the nation of Israel.
God hates sin. But He knows we’re gonna mess up. He knows others are gonna mess up and hurt us, really bad. Everything we do, and everything that’s been done to us . . . God knows. He sees. He knew about it before it happened. He’s already planned for it all, and though the process is sometimes painful, the end results are always good . . . if we let Him lead us.
If I had to compare myself to a literary character, I’m probably most akin to Bilbo Baggins. I don’t like adventures. They’re troublesome, and they make me late for dinner. But God has other plans for my life. He wants to take me on a great adventure, filled with toils and snares and danger and war wounds and . . . yes, with passion and beauty and love.
I may not always know where He’s leading me, and I may not always enjoy the journey. But I know one thing for certain. He knows where He’s going, even if I don’t. If I stay close to Him and let Him lead, I know I’ll end up in a better place than I could ever imagine. And the best thing is, the story He’s written for my life is all truth. And if I follow Him, I know the ending will be glorious.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” Jeremiah 29:11.