Friday evening I managed to get to bed early. I don’t know how I managed that but I knew it would never do. Not on a Friday night. So I followed my intuition and stood in front of my bookcase. It’s an ordinary bookcase of unpainted boards. My brother built it for me several years ago. It’s full. In fact, there are stacks of books around it. It’s my favorite part of my bedroom. So I stood there and I looked at my books and I wished for a new one. I’d read all of these several times over. But it’s not like bookstores are open at 9:30 PM so I reconsidered the shelves. I found one I hadn’t read in awhile. ‘Safely Home’ by Randy Alcorn.
I woke up Saturday morning feeling as rotten as could be. Even mom’s ponhaus and egg breakfast didn’t help. I didn’t want to do anything so I didn’t. I found a blanket and curled up on the couch and finished my book.
In spite of Katurah’s claims to the contrary I did do some things besides read on Saturday. I looked up and grinned at Jeremiah whenever he streaked by. I also took him outside for awhile and I folded laundry and do dishes but that has nothing to do with my story.
I went to bed early again Saturday night. This time I remembered a book I wanted to read. I also vaguely recalled overhearing Sharon tell someone about how she was using one of my books in her room to prop something up, (she struggles to understand the true value of books). I sent out a search party. Well, to be precise, I went into her room to look for it. I found ‘God and the Groceryman’ holding up the motto on her nightstand.
Sunday morning was clear and sunny. I woke up feeling so much better. I laid in bed and thought about what a blesses person I am. And then I thought of a book. I had loaned it to someone and just recently got it back. Since it was on the stack beside the bookcase and not actually in it, I had missed it when I was looking for a book the first time. Now I remembered. I jumped out of bed to grab ‘Blue Like Jazz’.
I started in eagerly. I read until it was time to get ready for church. Then I got ready for church with the book in one hand. I ate breakfast and read. I did my hair and kept on reading. When I climbed into the car to got to church, my book was still with me.
I promise I didn’t take it along into church. I didn’t even think about it during church. Mostly not. When we sang ‘Tell me the story of Jesus’ i thought of Bill in ‘Blue Like Jazz and how he wept when someone asked him what Jesus meant to him. When in devotions Bert told us about the way that seems right unto man I thought about Li Quan in ‘Safely Home’ and how he chose a way that seemed wrong to Ben Feilding but in the end it led to life. And in Sunday School when we discussed Proverbs 31 and the virtuous woman I thought of Grandma in ‘God and the Groceryman’ and how wisely she said “It takes a lot of religion for two people to love and marry and live together long enough to raise children and be grandparents”.
It was during the message sometime that I realized it. I had just read three books with the same story. True, the stories were set in different times and different places. They had different characters and different events. All three, however, have the same underlying story. The story of a mediocre christian who discovers that mediocre Christianity isn’t a thing. You are either a sincere christian or you aren’t a Christian at all. Randy Alcorn sets his story in China. He weaves his story beautifully to teach us things so hard to learn in America. We see, with Ben Fielding, that there is more to the world than just us. Harold Bell Wright on the other hand, keeps us here in our own country but asks us to look beyond our preconceived ideas. Donald Miller invites us to accompany his own journey. A journey he walks with courage and shares with an honesty that is refreshing and reviving.
It scared me a little when I realized it. The connection in these books. God doesn’t guide us to 3 books with the same story unless he’s trying to say something.
I needed this message. I needed to let go of the small things. I needed to go back to first base. To remember my foundation. Being a Christian isn’t about doing everything right or understanding everything. Being a Christian is about faith. It’s about grace. It’s about love.