Literature, Uncategorized

Bookshelf Tour: Journeys to Fayrah by Bill Myers

In case you haven’t quite caught it, we read a lot around here. Lately, I’ve been introducing my kids to Bill Myers’ Fayrah series (co-creator of McGee &Me, if you remember that series). It’s been a favorite of mine for a long time. The stories are fun and provide lots of opportunity to talk to your kids about spiritual concepts (or to be reminded of them for yourself!). Three main characters (Denise, Nathan, and Joshua) are transported to an alternate world in an alternate dimension so they can learn about Imager (similar to Narnia).

I really love how Myers uses analogy to talk about spiritual concepts. I could talk about each of the characters and their growth, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll focus on Denise. For example, in book two, The Experiment, Denise is struggling with Imager’s love–in large part because her father left her at an early age. The Fayrahnians take her to a machine that’s been infused with Imager’s breath and is able to create life in this miniature world. She’s instructed to create some beings so she can experience Imager’s love for His creature and then left alone. She creates two cute little humanoid creatures and in the end, sacrifices herself to save them. She learns experientially that God loves her because He made her. She also has some interesting revelations with the creatures putting themselves in situations where they’re unable to hear her.

Another little fun analogy he has going throughout the series is the water in Fayrah–it’s made up of Imager’s words. For humans (upside-downers), it’s the only way to be able to see or hear anything correctly. Denise, Nathan, and Joshua all have to pour the water in their ears and eyes to be able to function.

In The Whirlwind, Myers describes the feeling of being re-breathed (saved) thus: “Immediately, [Denise] was struck with a feeling of lightness. First it started in her head. it felt as if a heavy darkness were being drained from it. All of the confusion and muddled thinking that had plagued her mind as far back as she could remember was suddenly being drawn away…Next she felt her neck and shoulders start to grow light. A heaviness was being drained from them and out her feet into the pool. As the weight slipped away, she noticed her fears were also slipping away. Fears that she wasn’t loved. Fears that no one cared, that she really was on her own. Now, suddenly all those fears began to drain away…Next Denise felt the darkness leave her chest. Gradually, all the guilt over all the wrongs she had done was drained away. It felt as if a giant weight were removed. For the first time in her life, she felt like she could breathe. Really Breathe.”

It was a lot of fun to read Denise and Nathan’s conversion experiences and to remember my own. Sometimes, in the bustle of life, it’s easy to forget what things were like pre-Jesus. My life was pretty rotten. I definitely lived in fear, despair, shame, guilt, etc., etc. Reading this section to my kids reminded me that, as Christians, we really don’t have anything to worry about. Our sin is redeemed–taken away and the consequences are transformed. We’re loved–so loved that God died for us. As Romans 8:32 puts it, how will he not also along with this graciously give us all things? The God who sacrificed Himself for us and owns everything isn’t going to grudge us food to eat or a place to live–He provides for us abundantly and joyfully (Matt. 6:25-34).

I also really love at the end of The Whirlwind where Denise is put in a situation where the accuser is reminding her of everything she’s ever done wrong and it’s up to her to hang onto what’s true. So hard to do in real life!

If you’ve never read them, they’re definitely worth checking out!


The Hope of Suffering

This morning I listened to a sermon by Brandon Booth at Christ Community Church. He did a good job. It helped to solidify some things I’ve been kicking around.

Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Mr. Booth was talking about how the previous chapter talks about the essence of the gospel: justification through faith, as exemplified in the life of Abraham (which, by the way, I love, since Abraham’s faith showcases that someone who doesn’t have a history of faith, doesn’t live among people of faith, can change). Paul continues in chapter 5 with the hope we have of what’s to come–the glory of God. And then we have what’s sandwiched in between conversion and the hope to come: this life, “rejoic[ing] in our sufferings.”

I certainly have not had nearly as many sufferings as lots of people, however, I have found that my own personal sufferings are usually enough for me. The current round of doctor appointments with perpetual puzzlement as to why my body won’t respond to treatment has been more than enough. Frankly, I’ve been struggling not to give in to discouragement and despair (contrary to Joshua 1:6-9).

But I love this anchor that Paul returns to. We can rejoice in the midst of our sufferings because we are so blessed to know that God has a purpose somewhere . . . that our loving Father has allowed these sufferings, rather than some random occurrence. And that in the midst of suffering, we grow.

I often find myself feeling like I’m paddling upstream, fighting against overwhelming circumstances. I’m not daily accepting this is where God has me right now and then looking for what He wants to do. I’m so focused on trying to change my circumstances that I miss the opportunities for growth and joy.

Mr. Booth’s point was that rejoicing in suffering requires a similar intentional inaction that we rely on for salvation. When we’re first saved we throw ourselves on Christ’s sacrifice. In salvation we can (often reluctantly) do the nothing required. Yet in the midst of suffering, we struggle against the suffering. I want to be a woman who can put my faith firmly in the Holy Spirit’s abilities to transform me into Christ’s image in the midst of this life. I want to be able to rest and revel in the journey because of God’s presence, rather than fighting with my suffering. God, change my heart to be able to do nothing and leave the everything to You!