Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Change of Heart -- Hope Chronicles 24

I don't know if most bookstores do this or not, but the one I work in lets you borrow hard-cover books for 2 weeks! The management keeps the dust jacket. I've never done it before, but Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult recently came out. I'm on a budget, and since this a hardcover, it isn't in the budget. Since I'm only part-time "seasonal" (they call me in as a sub), I didn't know if the borrowing policy would extend to me. Happiness -- it does!

So, I've borrowed Change of Heart. Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite fiction writers. (Before you go out and buy her stuff on my say so, I don't know that she is a Christian. So she doesn't necessarily write from a Christian perspective. Some of her stuff is rather "edgy," and I'm not sure I would recommend a few of her books. Other books, I just absolutely love and have read numerous times. More specifically, My Sister's Keeper.)

What I love about her later books is that she completely gets you in the mind of the characters.

And I love the way she strings words together. Sometimes it makes me catch my breath and go back and read it again. It's beautiful.

So, I've just begun Change of Heart. I'm hooked. I want to know, need to know what happens. (But I turn the pages very carefully since I have to return it.)

Gist: June has endured more pain than many can imagine. Her first husband was killed in a car accident but she and her daughter were spared. Her second husband and her daughter were killed by another of the main characters, Shay. She gave birth to her second daughter after they were killed. And her daughter, Claire, needs a heart transplant.

I know it is fiction, but at the same time, I also know that life can sometimes look like that -- one sweeping tragedy after the next.

About 60 pages into it, June muses, "Life has a way of pointing out, with great sweeping signs, that you are looking at the wrong things, doesn't it? It was when I started to admit to myself that I'd rather be dead that I was given a child who had to fight to stay alive." In the same chapter she talks to Claire and Claire points out that the only thing she is allowed to do is read. Claire says, "I bet a saint can play softball."

June: "So can a girl with a heart transplant."

"But Claire wasn't listening; she knew that hope was just smoke and mirrors; she'd learned by watching me."

Of course, I zeroed in on the hope statement. I think hope by the world's standards may be smoke and mirrors. But I don't believe that it is so with Jesus. So, I've been thinking of how I might (as if I might meet her) challenge June's perception.

There was no smoke and mirrors about the cross.

There was no smoke and mirrors about Jesus rising from the dead. A couple things point to that. If the Romans stole the body, why didn't they produce it when Christianity started to catch on? If the disciples stole the body and made it up, why would they have been willing to die for something they knew was a lie? I don't think they would have been.

Maybe more compelling are the things in my life -- my change of heart. I came from a home that wasn't Christian, yet God showed Himself to me. I came from a home that was abusive. I'll admit that at times, that has meant that I have struggled to see God as a loving father. I could easily see Him as a distant King. A loving father? No. But God has shown me that a bad copy does not invalidate the original. And God is the original. I came from a home that was isolated and lonely and scary on a daily basis. I still struggle with those things some, but God is my safety. He has given me some great friends. He has helped me move out of the shadows and into the light. He has given me strength to stand up for my convictions. He has begun to redeem my brokenness. There is no smoke and mirrors about that. It is hope.

Smoke and mirrors are magic tricks, slights of the hand. Hope is about Jesus stretching His arms out on the cross and then one day stretching His arms out to welcome us into his presence.

What evidence is there in your life to refute the idea that hope is merely smoke and mirrors?


Joyful said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joyful said...

Hope is not smoke and mirrors to me. Hope is life! When I was born the Dr's gave absolutely NO HOPE for my survival. I was born premature, weighing just over 1 pound, lungs not developed etc...But God breathed life into me and continues to, so that my life is always filled with hope. Hope is more than wishful thinking - it's assurance in Christ.
May He be your hope today,

Nicki said...

Hope and Grace are the crowns I wear each day......it's what keeps me going!! This was so great! That book looks great!!

Heather@Mommymonk said...

Isn't it awesome that God can speak to us through anything - even a non-Christian novel? Those words about hope - so poignant.