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Over The Top

Life Changes in Fiction

The book Christyset the tone for my life changes. My sister-in-law put a copy of Catherine Marshall’s novel  in my hands, otherwise I may never have read it. Her story allowed me to get alone and take myself seriously (or not so seriously!). In reading it, there were no expectations to be met. I pictured myself in the author’s fictional Appalachian village of Cutter Gap, Tennessee, floating over the reality of my own world. There were no hot air balloons, but seeing one does lift you, doesn’t it?

Christy had a profound affect on my life. As historical Christian fiction, it dropped a curtain around me—like a fog did when I awakened this morning—the type that allows a peaceful balm to settle over my soul. It anointed my frantic spirit with peace when I read it in 1969. At the time I had two children under the age of two.

It’s not enough to say the novel touched me. Better said: it melted me and leveled some rough places in my heart. Nothing in it pounded me with Christianity or left me asking where I should rush to find Jesus. Rather, it took away the panic in my life and left me saying, “Jesus, here I am.”

Teen Life Changes

As a teenager I prayed over and over, “Lord, help me be a fine Christian girl,” always clamoring to be someone I couldn’t be.

Maybe this time I can get it right, I told myself. Nope! —still not perfect. Try again!

My pursuit for goodness in God’s eyes continued and with it my continual efforts to escape condemnation.

Life Changes in the Bible

Later, when my young family gave me more to consider than myself, there were days I’d have given my right arm to have a few hours of solitude—ones with no calamities and no loud noises to rattle my existence.

The Bible says this about the search for peace (that’s what we really want, right? Assurance of forgiveness, hope for the future?):

Deuteronomy 9: v5 —“It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you are going to occupy the land . . . (rather it is) in order to fulfill the promise that the Lord made on oath to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

There simply wasn’t a time when I failed to believe God was waiting for me. Mistakenly, I believed he waited for me to “get it right”. Peace isn’t illusive. It isn’t fiction either. God delivers on his promises—not because of what I’m able to do for myself but because of what he’s done for me. That truth sets me free and let’s me live above and beyond all I could hope for or imagine.

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