Monday, December 27, 2010

The Mark of the Lion

I was hesitant at first.

"You HAVE to read this series," Kristi begged. "Seriously Taryn, you have to. You will love it."

I wasn't so sure.

She went on, "It's really not my type of reading. It's more so something you would enjoy, I promise."

I am not sure why I didn't believe her. I later concluded that the scenario I was most afraid of was the one in which I would read the series and not like it as much as she said I would.

Or as much as everyone else said I would. Virtually everyone I talked to said it was excellent.

But what if it wasn't? What if I was left disappointed, after wasting my time on 3 books from a series I didn't enjoy? Disappointment would surely follow.

Normally I love surprises. And actually, although I think way too much into everything, I think that's another reason I didn't want to read this series. Everyone else loved it too much. It had already been discovered in its uniqueness. As with anything else in life, I like going in with no expectations or pre-formed opinions. Otherwise, too quickly, what everyone else thinks or says becomes my stance rather than being prepared to be blown away by something secret that I discovered on my own.

I am not saying I don't have a mind of my own. I am merely just saying... perhaps the thoughts and opinions of others holds far more weight than they should. For example, have you ever had someone tell you about a book or movie, and with their explanation you paint a picture in your head about what you think it will be? Then you read it or watch it, and it is absolutely nothing how you had envisioned it in your mind based on what you were told.

Anyway. One afternoon after lunch, Kristi drove me to her mom's house. Her mom has an endless supply of books and book series, and is great at recommending new finds to me. Before I started this series, I was hung up with Jodi Piccoult. She wrote "My Sister's Keeper" and writes a lot of fiction centered around causes, disorders, diseases, and controversial topics. All her writing is cleverly crafted with a sense of realism. Her books are quite often page-turners and I always learn something. Perhaps another reason I was so held back from reading the series.

The series in which I speak of is "The Mark of the Lion" series. That afternoon, Kristi instructed her mom to seek out the 3 books and she handed them to me.

"It takes awhile to get into them," she warned. "Don't give up after 2 chapters."

The first night I started book one, I curled up on the couch, prepared to get myself through a couple of chapters as an introduction.

I didn't put the book down until page 114.

I finished within a week and quickly dove into book 2. I finished that one last night and plan on starting book 3 sometime soon.

Without going into "book report" mode, I will say that one of the main characters-- Hadassah-- definitely challenges you in your spiritual walk. It seems almost impossible to have the faith, humility, and boldness that she did... but it is not. It is not impossible, it is just merely uncomfortable. And most Christians aren't used to discomfort.

A lot of the situations Hadassah found herself in are situations that we are very fortunate to avoid in today's times and in a place like the US. Yet just because we've been handed freedom in choosing a religion and worshiping as we want, and just because most of us live in warm homes and have plenty to eat, and just because we aren't made slaves or gladiators in order to survive... just because, it does not excuse us from our duties as a Christian. In fact, I would think it would be MORE of a reason to reach out. We, who are fortunate... we who are so blessed beyond measure, what holds us back? In these books, for Hadassah, holding back meant protection of her life. To speak up or speak out could get her killed. So any hesitation on her part is understandable. Yet she never hesitated. She always lived her Faith, no matter what that would cost her. She knew that in the end, nothing was more important than Christ and proclaiming His name, and if she died for it, so be it.

But what of me? I can witness on a street corner, in a coffee shop, or in an elevator, and I won't be sent to the lion's den for it. But do I?

Sometimes, I think our many blessings blind us if we aren't careful. Lately, I have been convicted about a couple of things: what I own, and what I watch. Ultimately, what I own is not mine, but God's. So how much "stuff" that I have... how much of that glorifies God? Second, what I watch affects what goes into my mind, and what I think on. How much of the things that I watch... how much of that glorifies God? How much of it teaches me, edifies me, builds me up, and is pure and lovely?

A lot to think about after 2 books from that series.

So I must say... my uncertainty in reading this series was definitely unwarranted. Thank you, Kristi, for your suggestion!

Love you all!



Jill Foley said...

My favorite series - I've read it 3 times already, and it's on the rotation for 2011! I've enjoyed all of Francine Rivers' books.

Grandma Dee Dee said...

Like I told you, it is Keith and My favorite series!!!
We have read it twice and hope to this year too!!! enjoy