By Sarah Shuey
I am an avid reader. I love books. In fact, I am pretty sure that “love” is not strong enough. I most often carry a book with me and if it is not with me, it is probably in my car waiting for me. There is nothing quite like getting caught up in a good (clean) love story, a gripping thriller, or the adventure of a mystery novel. For my birthday, Doug gave me a shirt that says, “Skip the Movie, Read the Book,” which I wear proudly and frequently. I have also been known to skim the end of the book when I just desperately need to know if they end up together, who committed the crime, or if the main character is still alive. It is a horrible habit, I know, but I will admit that I have gotten better at not doing that as it takes away from the story as a whole. Or so I’ve been told. Apparently people do not always appreciate spoilers.
When I talk to people who love books as I do or listen to podcasts on books, there seems to be a common theme. Choosing a favorite book is like choosing a favorite child (or pet, or student, etc.). I, however, appear to differ in that aspect. My favorite book of all time (not counting the Bible), is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. This historical novel is a fictional retelling of the story of Hosea. God tells Hosea to go marry the adulterous woman and despite her leaving, God asks Hosea to love her like He loves the Israelites. Redeeming Love captures the essence of that story and tells the tale of Michael Hosea and Sarah. Without providing any spoilers, I think what draws me to this book is the constant overriding imagery of God’s unconditional and unending love for us, His children. I must have read this book a dozen times and still cry each time I read it. In fact, it has been a few years – maybe it is time for me to read it again!
A book can take you on a journey. It can make you cry from sorrow or happiness.It can make you think, analyze, and evaluate on a general level and a personal level. To find a book that incorporates all of those aspects is extremely rare. In fact, I can only think of one book that evokes all kinds of emotions, tells tales of adventure and battles, and concludes with the greatest victory of all time. The Bible is a book that is meant to be read, and reread, and reread again. The overriding theme is God’s love for us. Every story and every tale leads to that connection. Also, it is okay to skip to the ending! In our society, there is an extreme amount of unrest and conflict. Relationships are being torn apart due to politics. People are being hurt or worse due to terror attacks. So much pain and suffering all around us. It is times like these that remembering the ending is the best part.
In church this morning, we sang a well-known and well-loved hymn: A Mighty Fortress is Our God. It is easy, at times, to go through the motions and just sing the words on the screen without actually making sense of what those words mean. Today, however, that third verse stuck out to me.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
“For lo his doom is sure.” Satan loses! Satan is defeated and Jesus reigns as King! This grief, this stress, this sorrow, this pain, it does not last. I almost felt as though Martin Luther knew what times we were going to be facing when he wrote this hymn. It applied then when he wrote it. It applies to all of us now. Our hope, our lasting promise, is this: Jesus Wins. No spoilers, just an everlasting promise. Jesus is stronger than all of this and in the end, He will reign forever!