Faith given back to us after a night of doubt is a stronger thing,
and far more valuable to us than faith that has never been tested.
These past few weeks, while the real world revolves on its' axis... I have been enjoying a visit to the England of long ago. It was especially delightful to re-read The Heart of the Family when I wasn't feeling well for it reminded me that one does not have to be strong or young or rich to bring their influence to the people around them.
I love how, in Sebastian's weakness and tragedy, he developed a calm faith others can draw from in the story. There are people he comes to love whose gift to him is the reality of Christ and his new found hope and peace return to them in moments they need it most. I think that is what followers of Christ are to be to each other...
We know from our first meeting with Sebastian that he is physically weak and soon come to realize he is in the last months of his life. I understand his depression and his feelings of inadequacy. For anyone whose body is no longer strong has moments of frustration, if not depression.
However, in this story, as Sebastian's body grows weaker, his positive influence on those around him deepens. The Eliot family will always be better for having Sebastian as part of their inner circle.
I also love how the solid rock of the family, while many believe it to be Grandmother, is often the "homely, humble, disheveled, Anglican priest" uncle. He thinks of himself as failing in his role, unable due to physical limitations from WWI injuries to do what I would call "great things". The reader knows that it is in his day in and day out sufferings that he became the rock of faith he is to many.
I'm embarrassed to say that as an American Baby Boomer, I assumed it was those people who accomplished great things that most influenced the world. Now I know that real life is lived in small places... in families and friendships and houses and neighborhoods... where God places our sphere of influence for Him.
I have found that it is in the quite conversations throughout the years that we can bring our faith and values to others. Most often when our children were growing up, it was those times when we were driving to and from a class or an errand, when hiking a trail or drying dishes, when we were answering a question while folding clothes or stirring soup... the day to day living of people around us... that wisdom was passed on to the next generation.
I think if I knew then what I know now, how fast the years fly by and how little time we have with those around us, I would have put more thought into that which I wanted to pass on to others. But God doesn't want us to live life in a rear view mirror. He knows it is in the day-to-day actions taken and precept by precept conversations that we pass on what we have learned.
I think of conversations with my mother, friends, and other people who came in and out of my life throughout the years. A few of the people who had a significant influence on my faith were those I knew only a short time, as if God (and I believe He did) ordained the crossing of our paths for that purpose. Their words helping to mold and shape me as much or more than any sermon.
For listening to good teaching, excellent books, and especially reading the Bible help to lay a foundation of Truth in each of us. But isn't it true that most Truth... and definitely increased faith... are burned into us through the heat of adversity? When we meet those who have gone through trials and have come out with a deeper love of God and His people... they provide a walking, talking testimony.
We have a decision to make as we walk along our journey. Either we will allow God to mold us and shape us as He wants, to be the finished product we are intended to become... to leave a legacy of faith and courage to our family and friends. Or... we will choose to kick and scream and complain our way to Heaven. We will retain our salvation but our legacy will not be what we hoped.
God is not going to judge me next to the accomplishments of Billy Graham for He did not call me to preach the Gospel to millions of people. Instead he will ask what I did with the gifts and talents that were unique to my journey. That should give us all hope...
Image: Family Circle by Lee Stroncek