I started reading Janette Oke when I was in elementary school. I loved the pioneer stuff, the romances, all that. I didn’t really notice all the deep stuff.
In my late high school years I looked on Janette Oke with a jaded eye. “How many years of my life did I waste with that pablum?” I thought, as I gloried in the intellectual fare I was now enjoying.
Now I’m a young professional, re-reading Janette Oke as part of my “read every book in Eiseley library” goal. And I’m astonished at how much stuff there really is.
No, it’s not intellectual, debate-the-meaning-of-this-with-your-friends material. But it’s solid, Biblically and experientially-based stuff. Yes, it tends to “tell” through conversations between characters rather than simply “showing” these big principles. But it’s still good stuff.
Re-reading these books has been like listening in as an older, wiser woman helps a younger, less experienced woman with the everyday details of her life.
In fact, that’s usually what it is–a conversation between Ma Graham and Marty in the first books of the “Love Comes Softly” series, conversations between Marty and her developing daughters later.
Or like the conversation that struck me just a few days ago–Marty’s advice to her grown granddaughter Virginia after the death of Virginia’s grandmother-in-law, who had lived with Virginia and her husband for quite a while.
“It takes time. Time and God…I was told that years ago when I lost someone. At the time, it wasn’t a’tall what I wanted to hear. But it happened–just that way. Oh, not that ya ever forget. Not ever. But life has a way of movin’ on. New things happen. New people come into our lives. God does not leave us stalled forever. He just nudges us forward. Pushes us on out. Urges us to look for new meanin’ in life. An’ it is there. It’s always there. Somethin’ new to live for. Somethin’ to give life zest again.”
~Marty Davis, in Janette Oke’s A Quiet Strength
As I read this, I thought of Marty’s losses (of a husband in the very first book in the series, of friends and neighbors later on, of children moving far away, of medical situations causing huge changes). I thought of Virginia’s loss. I thought of my own losses.
And with tears in my eyes, I thanked God for that one sentence of Marty’s:
“God does not leave us stalled forever.”
Sometimes in the midst of loss, it feels like we’re stalled on the side of the road, broken, going nowhere. Sure that the engine is fried, we might be tempted to give up, to abandon even life itself. Other people might be moving along the road, but we can’t be.
But God does not leave us stalled forever.
At some point, even if we can’t identify a specific moment, the hurt begins to fade, the missing becomes a little less all-encompassing. And something new rises to give meaning and purpose for continuing.
Deeply ambivalent, desiring a different life, you move to a new town, begin a new job. You choose to seek out new friendships, new opportunities to serve. And then someday you find that you’re no longer forcing enthusiasm for a life you didn’t want–you’re rejoicing in the opportunity that God has given you in this life you once didn’t want.
Not that you forget. No, it’s like Marty said. You don’t forget. But somehow, by the grace of God, you move on.
I am so thankful that God chooses to work in such a way–and that somehow, over the course of this past year, He has worked that beautiful miracle of healing in me.
Collect more quotes from throughout the week with Barbara H’s meme “The Week in Words”.