If there is one thing I love about a good Christian fiction novel, it is when reading about the life of a fictional character brings much-needed truth into my own life. That definitely happened while reading The Story People. If you want to read my review of this novel, you can do so here. Here on the blog, however, I would just like to share some of what my reading of this particular title got me thinking about the ideas of vocation, purpose and making tough choices.
"How do you know you are where you're supposed to be?"
This is most definitely a question I have struggled with many times. Even now, as we consider where we will live next year, I find myself in that place of anxiety again. No matter how often I remind myself to lay decisions like this at the feet of my Heavenly Father and trust He will direct my path, I still find myself trying to pick those worries back up over and over. For years, we have felt like we are torn between two homes. Both places have so much to offer, and so off and on we have tried to figure out where we are supposed to be. The hard part is that there is no clear choice. We see the opportunity to grow and serve in both locations, but we can't see where God wants us for sure. This is the dilemma that immediately came to mind when I read page 187 of this novel where one of the main characters was given this advice:
It's not about finding the perfect set of circumstances - there is no such thing in this fallen world. It's about being faithful in the circumstances you're in. God simply calls us to be faithful, but even in faithfulness, peace can elude us if we're not fully trusting God. If we spend our time worrying over a perceived lack of peace and direction, we are missing the point and skipping over the whole trust part. The point is to be faithful and to set our minds on Christ, and to trust in Him alone. It may sound simplistic, but oftentimes we complicate and muddy things through human reasoning. (emphasis mine)
To say that I am an overthinker would be a huge understatement. This is something I feel like I need to be working on right now. Just the other night (shortly before I read this page of this book) I lay in bed thinking that some people think that the idea of salvation through Christ is too easy. I, on the other hand, struggle with the simplicity more than I would a list of rules to follow. I like rules. I like direction. I like goals. I just want to be told exactly what to do most of the time. (Not that I am great at following through with it when I am, but that is beside the point.) My brain is constantly running on overdrive, and it would be so much easier if I could just quiet it down. I remember a sermon by one of our pastors that included something along the line of "beware of the buts," which was memorable not only because it was giggle-worthy (come on... it is) but because it was so very me. I am that person who wants to insert the "but" at the end of my profession of faith: I am saved through grace... but...
I know there is no "but" at the end of that statement. Yet I still have a hard time letting go of it. It all feels too easy... which makes it really hard. I loved that the author used the passage in 1 Corinthians 1:27 that tells us that "God chooses the simple things to confound the wise." It is only when I start trying to rely on my own understanding that I begin trying to add limitations or requirements to God's free gift of salvation. If I rely on His wisdom... if I cling to the peace of God that surpasses all understanding and let it guard my heart and mind... I realize that it truly is just that simple. As the book goes on to state:
"Just look at the cross - there can be nothing more simple and powerful than that, and yet we humans love to tamper and play with the clarity God has given!"
When I apply this to my own decision-making, I realize that the truth of the matter is that there is no perfect place for us to live. We have been given the freedom to make choices like the one we are facing, and in the end what we need to do is look at where we can serve and how we will seek God in the place we end up in. God is not limited by our weakness, and we can be confident that even if we make choices that are less than ideal, there will always be grace waiting for us and opportunities for growth. And often, like they did for the characters in this work of fiction, the choices we make will yield results that we never could have considered with our limited view of God's eternal plan.
I really enjoyed this book, and am so thankful I was given the opportunity to be on the release team for it! You can pick up your copy here.