Well, today is Type Tuesday. I've had a few books on the go, as always. I just finished Wings of Glass. I had heard the author, Gina Holmes, interviewed by Melinda Estabrooks and Kimberly MacLaren on The Drew Marshall Show and I immediately bought the book. Holmes's writing style interested me. She writes Christian self-help in fiction form, which struck me as an interesting idea as I've just finished writing a business book in fiction form and believe that fiction is a marvellous training tool. I've written about how reading fiction can act as a simulation of the human experience: you can learn how people work, psychologically, by reading a lot of good fiction. So, to me it holds true that reading fiction could act very much like therapy. I wanted to see how Holmes executed her ideas. Plus, the book tackles domestic abuse in Christian relationships and that's a topic that I've come to believe needs far more exploration. I've never read "inspirational" fiction - I tend to be more Joyce Carol Oates than Janette Oke - so I was not sure what to expect. (Actually, I thought I knew what to expect - a Harlequin without the good stuff.) The book was a delightful surprise. It's very readable - a beach read in terms of style - but it takes on some hard theological issues, exploring how domestic violence is treated in scripture, in context. I was impressed that Holmes took some risks in her treatment of some of the characters and nobody was painted as perfect.
I also slow-read the next four chapters of Angle Smith's Mended: Pieces of a Life Made Whole. It's such an interesting book. It's not a style I tend to read and so when I'm actually reading it, I don't feel an immediate connection the way I do with some other authors. But then days later, I'm still thinking about the ideas and talking about them with others. Smith's idea of Lot's wife representing the continual temptation to get sucked back into dwelling on the past is such a powerful one for me. I need to glue a salt shaker to my bathroom mirror. And she has lots to say about the disciple Peter: how he is a man of extremes. He might have denied Christ three times, but when he's in, he's all in. She can relate to a guy like that and so can I.
What stood out for me in this week's reading is when she writes about one of her favourite verses, Exodus 14:14, spoken by Moses to the Israelites who were trapped between Pharaoh's army and the sea.
The Lord will fight for you; and you only have to be silent.
This was easier said that done when Smith heard Moses's birth story a few months after her baby daughter had died. She wanted to shout out at the unfairness of it all. I'm a big fan of justice. So being silent and allowing the Lord to fight in His own time is not easy. I can barely watch Coronation Street right now because it looks like the evil Karl Munro is going to get away with murder and will be credited with saving Stella, who he very nearly also killed.
But as Smith reminds us,
This life is never going to fill us, is never going to satisfy our need for goodness. And it doesn't need to.
We want everything to work out our way and to match our timing. Smith reminds us that while God was faithful to his promises to Moses, Moses never saw the promised land himself. Things are not always wrapped up in a nice little bow the way we'd like them to be. We are not promised no suffering or that justice (our notion of justice, of course) will be served right away. What we are promised is that we are not alone, God is faithful, and He can always redeem our pain.
And that can be enough.