We sat in silent disbelief, neither of us knowing what to say. When my husband’s job was eliminated without warning, the news landed like a tidal wave: completely unexpected and comprehensively devastating. Then, as the wave receded, applications, interviews, and the thin hope that accompanies waiting seemed to set the agenda for our family’s unknown future.
This page from our family history demonstrates that holding on to hope without any evidence of a happy ending may be one of the most challenging disciplines of the following life. As immature Christians, we want to believe that the test for cancer will always come back negative, our kids will always win the scholarships, and our career paths will persistently follow a predictable upward trajectory. Eventually, the realities of life confirm the Apostle Peter’s warning that we actually will have “to struggle in various trials,” giving us the opportunity to grow into the knowledge that we have access to hope, even when the outcome is still unclear.
Parker Palmer calls this place of uncertainty “the tragic gap,” and I’m writing about that today for Living By Design, a non-denominational, non-profit Christian ministry that delivers free Bible studies to inboxes around the world. You’re invited to the table, especially if you or someone you love have found yourselves standing in the space between what you desire and what you are holding in your hands.
Here’s your reminder that when you’re facing that tragic gap, God has promised to be your bridge. CLICK HERE for encouragement and words of hope.
On the balance scale, our suffering, our seasons of uncertainty, and all the tension of our unmet longings land like feathers when weighed against God’s great promises, secured for us by the death and resurrection of Christ.Tweet
And Now, Let’s Talk Books
The Scandal of Holiness
A book about books makes for dangerous reading material if you happen to suffer from a perpetually growing list of books you plan to read. Even so, The Scandal of Holiness by Jessica Hooten Wilson was well worth the risk. Writing on eight themes from the following life, Wilson employs characters from fiction to shed an angle of light on the nature of holiness and a life lived consciously in the presence of God.
Since I have already been catechized by the Reverend John Ames from Marilynne Robinson’s fiction and by various residents of Wendell Berry’s Port William membership, I am eager to have my imagination expanded again in new ways. How wonderful that sanctification can be encouraged by the good, the true, and the beautiful sifted from 20th century novels!
Wilson mingles the more familiar names of Flannery O’Connor, C.S. Lewis, and Walter Wangerin, Jr. with the less familiar work of Eugene Vodolazkin, Sigrid Undset, and George Bernanos (and many more!). Each chapter ends with a brief excerpt, a related scripture verse, a quotation from a saint, and a prayer, underscoring the author’s conviction that our reading choices are life-altering, for “a novel is… a way to travel through the human heart.”
I have been formed by a love for fictional characters who somehow speak more wisdom than they realize and by authors whose view of the world made me want to peer through the same lens they were using. By reading well, we become better equipped to read more skillfully our own narrative arc, to ask ourselves the probing questions that reveal our motives and sift our hypocrisy as we trust for grace to live well.
I’m grateful for the encouragement you provide by reading and sharing this post!
Holding you in the Light,
“A novel is… a way to travel through the human heart.” You’ll enjoy that journey via #TheScandalofHoliness @HootenWilson @BrazosPressTweet
A New Free Resource…
Curiosity has been my strange companion since my recent diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease, so I’ve created a resource to invite you into curiosity along with me! God is not some grumpy parent, silencing his children and condemning our questions.
This line of thinking sent me on a biblical scavenger hunt for questions posed by the Bible’s authors. What were they asking and how should this affect the questions I’m asking and the way my curiosity is framed?
To receive your copy of “Half a Dozen Biblical Questions for Entering (and Enduring) Hard Times” simply enter your email and then click on the button below…
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and an affiliate of The Joyful Life Magazine, two advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase any of the books or products I’ve shared, simply click on the image, and you’ll be taken directly to the seller. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Many thanks to Brazos Press and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which is, of course, offered freely and with honesty.