Posts Tagged “Safely Home”

Note: you can purchase each of the books discussed in this blog simply by clicking on the name of the book.

Having graduated with my masters a few weeks ago, I have been thinking a lot about “what’s next?” I want to pursue more speaking and writing, but I don’t think that’s the whole picture and I don’t have many answers to that question. I am, comfortable resting in God as He unfolds things before me, yet “what’s next?” keeps reverberating in my mind. It’s created in me a more watchful state about opportunities that might appear on the horizon (at right in front of my nose).

It’s also had me thinking very specifically about what I’d like my life to be. I am regularly and eagerly praying “Lord, Your will, not mine – where can You best use me in Your kingdom,” but I am also thinking through what I would like to do in this next phase of my life and asking God to fulfill those dreams.

With that as a backdrop and having been released from “required reading,” I’ve read three fiction books in the past month (!). Interestingly, each has lent its perspective to the process and has made a strong impression on me. Curiously, I didn’t choose any of these books:

  • My husband, Phil, picked the first book – one that had been sitting in our library for quite some time and neither of us had read yet. It didn’t appeal to me at first, so I laid beside my bed and it stayed there several days – until I was leaving for an appointment and wanted to something to read should I have to wait. I quickly grabbed the book and was out the door.
  • A few days after finishing that book, I picked up another book at the retreat house I stayed at for a couple of nights. Having read Scripture and a devotional book, meditated, prayed and worshipped, I felt ready for something lighter and found a basket of books. I picked up the one by an author I had read a book by almost thirty years ago.
  • Finally, two weeks ago, Phil stopped at a discount store and for only $1.99 they had a copy of the first book in a six-book series by my favorite fiction authors. Who could resist such a bargain! Being side-lined a bit after my knee surgery, I’ve had plenty of time to read it.

I’ve provided this detail because it’s so interesting to me that I truly had little to do with choosing the books I read, and each has challenged me in the same way, while weaving stories across three continents and sixty years.

Can you say “God speaks?” One of the way God speaks to us is by the repetition of a theme – it comes up in a conversation with a friend, then we read an article that touches on the same topic, then our Scripture reading that day reinforces the message…or perhaps we just read three books in a row with the same message. Clearly, God is speaking.

Each of these books has made me very aware of the blessed life I lead and even more aware of how warped my definitions of a “blessed life” and “success” are. But I’ll get to that. First, a little about the books I’ve read:

Safely Home, by Randy Alcorn, was the first book I read. It is a story about a Chinese man, educated in the United States and on the fast track to becoming a professor and famous thinker of his time. He is also a Christian and upon returning home, he finds all opportunities closed to him…except that of a lock maker. He becomes the best lock maker, living a life that challenges the reader to make sense of the world in which we live and the purposes of God in one man’s life. “Is this the day I die?” the lead character asks every day as he lives for eternity instead of for himself.

Secret Believers: What Happens when Muslims Believe in Christ, by Brother Andrew and Al Janssen, is the fictionalized account of real people who live in Muslim countries and come to faith in Christ. How are the people in the story to fulfill their calling to strengthen the Church when it is illegal for the Church to exist? It is a story about how believers live, struggle, and glorify God when the place to which they are called is hostile toward them and their faith.

Jerusalem Vigil, by Bodie & Brock Thoene. The Thoenes are masterful authors of historical Christian fiction. Jerusalem Vigil is the first book in the Zion Legacy series and begins with the creation of Israel is a nation. Jews and Christians attempt to make their home in the war-torn city of Jerusalem as neighbors on all side seek to destroy the nation before it has a chance to live. It is a gripping novel about the lives of those transplanted from safety to a place requiring all they have to give and more – all the compassion, all the strength, all the love, and most importantly all the faith.

In all cases, the main characters lived with great fear and sadness. In all cases, the main characters redefined for me the phrase “blessed life” and the concept of “success.” Both have little to do with circumstances and everything to do with perspective. I am blessed to serve God in my circumstances. Success is a life lived for God with integrity and purpose…regardless of whether that life is lived out in a place my “dreams” would never take me, or exactly in the place my dreams would take me.

I’m reminded of what Paul said:

20For I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past, and that my life will always honor Christ, whether I live or I die. 21For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better.
Philippians 1:20-21 (NLT)

20I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:20-21 (NIV)

As I recall, there is also that phrase in the Bible about sharing in Christ’s sufferings:

17Now if we are children, then we are heirsheirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Romans 8:17 (NIV)

Wow…we are His children IF we share in His sufferings. And sharing in those sufferings is living for Christ, seeing Him exalted in our bodies. Somehow I think that message gets lost in American Christianity. Lord, forgive us.

Can you pray this simple prayer with me?

Lord, continue to shape and mold my understanding of success and blessing. I submit to Your will for my life…where ever it leads.

On Monday, a blog about destiny…..hmmm, I see a theme here!

Comments Comments Off on On “A Blessed Life” and “Success”

© copyright 2009-2013, Data Designs Publishing and Sandra J. Hovatter