Monday, June 15, 2009

A Volume of Loving Thoughts

"Books are standing counselors and preachers, always at hand,and always disinterested; having this advantage over oral instructors,that they are ready to repeat their lesson as often as we please."

Oswald Chambers

A book casually rests atop some reference volumes high on my library shelf. Its spring green paper back and cover picture of a pensive Victorian woman have many times intrigued my literary senses. Sitting at a lovely desk, the prim woman writes, having a shy, kind look of grace about her. She appears determined, focused. Her face glows from soft, mellow light.

I have not yet even skimmed this classic work by Charlotte Bronte, time being an ever present constraint, and my need for devotional works speaking much louder than random reads. Yet, I have sought a basic understanding of Villette and have curiously read an introduction to the story behind its cover. What I found was a sad heroine, Lucy, who escapes a tragic past in her England to venture to Villette, a small village in France. Her escape leads Lucy to more sorrow, frustration, and ill-use. Villette, it seems, is a novel about despair, fear, hypocrisy, injustice, insecurity, and the need of courage.

Whether I will ever be determined enough to read this classic story I do not know. But my curiosity about its plot and theme has led me to thoughts beyond those I am sure were intended by its author. Literary critics thrive on twisting Villette into a story of feminism and the psychology of repressed emotions. I do wonder if Charlotte Bronte meant that interpretation. I am sure she often found the role of women in Victorian society a cross to bear. Whatever the author's intention and whatever the critics believe, there is only one perspective truly important. Those are the thoughts of the Creator of words. The knowledge of the Holy. God and God alone, who knows the heart of one.

Please forgive me as I speak with passion on the subject of critical reading, but I was taught to teach the written word with a worldly view. I mean no disrespect to education. God uses our educations for His glory. But I, with firm intention, have challenged myself as a reader: to read, to understand, to study, to enjoy, to learn, to determine, to define, to reflect, to employ all in Christ and with His discernment.

Dear friends, as Christians we are not divided into pieces. We are whole beings, who must wholly live and holy live. Our entire lives are hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). I am a Christian when I worship; I am a Christian when I serve. I am a Christian when I am happy; I am a Christian when I am angry. I am a Christian when I am weak; I am a Christian when I am strong. I am a Christian if I fail; I am a Christian if I succeed. I am a Christian when I eat; I am a Christian when I sleep. I am a Christian in my church; I am a Christian in my kitchen. I am a Christian in the morning and in the evening; I am a Christian when I think of my future and remember my past.

And, yes, I am a Christian when I write and when I read. Therefore, what I read, what I see, that which I interpret must be done through the eyes of Christ, with the influence of the Holy Spirit. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing is restricted from God's counsel or authority.

It is said that A. W. Tozer, a mighty hero of faith, sought understanding of literature and studied earnestly. He searched all with spiritual understanding, even kneeling to read Shakespeare. If this great man of God turned to our Creator for guidance in all his reading, I am compelled to take his example and cast myself on God's mercy, even for what seems trivial, only earthly, small, immaterial to my Christian life.

It is God's desire to give me understanding and leadership in everything. He wants me to look to Him as the complete One. The Source of my life. Not to discount other opinions or disrespect everyone else, but to allow God's voice as the final word, the ultimate view. My viewer of views. I must regard everything through His sacred vision. Yes, God's infallible word is my all sufficient rule of faith and practice (II Timothy 3:15-17).

Through His word we learn that God is love. It is His pleasure to give you and me good gifts (Matthew 7:11). He framed us. Made us with a need to rest, to search for relaxation and refreshment in our weariness. He created language and its beauty. He designed the flow of syntax and made our brains to learn, our eyes to see, and our lips to speak, to read. So, whatever is noble, honorable, decent, and praiseworthy, we can read and enjoy, even gaining godly wisdom as we open our hearts to His voice (Philippians 4:8).

Grasp God's heart as you read and work. Listen for His voice even in what seems small. Jesus Christ is your life, and He is your gentle Shepherd. He longs to lead you in all and speak to you in all. The Lord Himself is your personal literary authority and movie expert. If you feel a tug in your heart, a warning to stay away from anything, heed this sweet voice of the Holy Spirit that only desires your good.

For, God is your faithful Source for everything, even what seems small. Oh, how he longs to lead you! Oh, how He treasures your dependence on Him! And, oh, how God is committed to every part of your life! His love for you is everlasting. And your wisdom, your life, your joy are found in His whispers, those gentle pulls at your heart strings. He has in store for you "a volume of loving thoughts."


  1. Oh...this was beautiful! As another lover of the written word, it always thrills me when the Lord uses verse meant for one meaning to show me something else entirely...He speaks through so many different channels....

  2. Oh Andrea, again dear friend, you have shared exactly what the Lord is guiding me to do ~ to have complete dependency on Him for everything!

    Thank you dear friend for sharing...

    in Christ,

    lady m

  3. Your post reminds me of the book I'm reading titled "The Creative Call" and the book "Walking on Water: Reflections on Life and Art" by Madeleine L'Engle. Thank you!

  4. All I can say is AMEN! Everything in life must be viewed through the lens of Jesus. The older I get, the more I'm finding it difficult to watch anything on TV or at the movies because when watching through Jesus' eyes, I see so differently. Thanks for the post.

  5. Andrea, I cannot make out the name of the artist that created the painting that you've used for the illustration for your post.

    This is a lovely picture. Very peaceful. If you can make the name out, would you share it?

    Thank you for sharing this post.
    Enjoyed this.

  6. Hello Andrea,

    What a great quote you opened with and as always your post tugs on the strings of my heart. At work this morning we were talking about God's love for us and how He's the romancer of our hearts and soul. He's the only one who can fill our every need and how we need to be sensitive to His Spirit when we are called to shift gears in our work day. Sometimes that's so difficult to do.

    I hope you have a blessed evening!

    xoxo Cori

  7. Deanna, the picture at the top of the post is by Claude Monet. I believe it is a painting of his wife, Camille, and it is called

    You are so right; it is a very beautiful, peaceful picture.

    Thank you for your comment. God bless.


  8. Dearest Andrea,
    How true indeed!!!
    Thank you for these rich words of
    wisdom! :>)

    Many Blessings~ Jen

  9. This beautiful post caused me to call to rememberance a sermon my husband once preached, in which he referred to the Bible, as God's love letter to us. As I get older, both in years and in my christian walk, I've come to cherish this love letter more and more each day.

    Blessings Andrea and thank you for this post.

  10. Your words are (as usual) crafted with skill and packed with truth! "Wholly live and holy live" is an integration that I diligently pursue. 2 Peter 1:3 says God has given us everything we need for life (wholly live) and godliness (holy live). Your challenge today reinforces my sometimes faltering resolve. May God be praised and treasured by us all.

  11. Dear Andrea...

    I love your writing of today. Reading this post makes me realize that I AM A CHRISTIAN and everything else comes after that... Imperfect at best, but trying and serving with all my might to please and honor the One who created me.

    You are such a gifted writer/author. God has placed you on my heart and every day I pray that SOMEONE out there in the publishing arena will find you and bring your written words into the light for all to see.



  12. Hi Good Andrea! Thank you for visiting my blog! I would LOVE to tell you about Madeleine L'Engle! One of my very brainy friends told me about her long ago and I have been VERY blessed by her work. She died just a short time ago, but she lived a long and lovely life of blessing people with her high thinking and her honest philosophy. The Crosswicks Journals are my favorites. Not everyone loves them. I like to read them to myself (aloud) and revel in the beauty of the language and Madeleine's questions. The Walking on Water book I mentioned has been life changing for young and old alike. I have purchased more than one copy of it and it always wanders away. Our sons were especially inspired by it. She also wrote childrens books. You've heard of Wrinkle in Time. It's good,but not my cup of tea. I like her nonfiction. Her book about marriage, A Two Part Invention, is wonderful. She was married to Dr. Tyler from All My Children (I know, I'm not a soaps person) and he seemed like a WONDERFUL man. She was just SO talented, courageous, bold, and filled with love for our BIG God. Sorry, such a long comment! I hope you LOVE her!

  13. You said, "If you feel a tug in your heart, a warning to stay away from anything, heed this sweet voice of the Holy Spirit that only desires your good." I wholeheartedly believe this but I find that most of us fail to even hear that voice and then we don't even know to head the warning. May God help us to listen more carefully to His tugging of our hearts.

    Thanks for your kind words and for the posts.

  14. What jumped out at me in your beautiful anointed writing was how much the Holy Spirit wants to guide me. For many years, this has been the prayer of my heart...that I may hear His voice and be obedient to Him. I'm not there yet, but I'm on my way. Oh, to hear His direction, especially when praying for others!

  15. Andrea,
    Your words are soothing, challenging, and thought provoking. I enjoy your post so very much.
    Please keep writing as I am blessed time and again by what you share.

    In Grace,

  16. Dearest Andrea,

    Once again, I am amazed at how the Lord uses your posts to speak to my heart. This very thing has been on my mind for some time now, especially since I started reading Charlotte Bronte's, Jane Eyre. In past times I've not read many classics for mixed emotion... I could use my time better, I didn't want to fill my head with all these characters and their situations, etc..... since I started blogging my interest has peaked and so I've seen most of Austen's movies, but now I'm reading Bronte.... I believe the Lord is affirming through your post what His gentle voice has been speaking to my heart.

    Amazing how He can do that. Speak through someone I've never even met and in such timely manner. Truly He is sovereign. Thank you for sharing what the Lord lays upon your heart... thank you for being faithful.

    Mrs. Teapot

  17. Thank you for the sweet birthday wishes, it was indeed a special day. I so wish I could remember the exact quote from the book Stepping Heavenward but it says something about books and our reading habits to the effect of making friends with a few well versed volumes, visit them frequently, and learn the lessons they have to teach. I happen to be an avid reader but I am also a choosy or discerning reader, listening for that still small voice of guidance. Thank you for this beautiful truth filled post.

  18. Villette moved me much more than Jane Eyre did. I find I prefer it more since I read it. She wrote it when she was still mourning for her sisters. I love the depth of feeling with such vivid descriptions. She spoke my heart in times past. I just wished I knew a little French. I need an annotated version, I suppose. I would love to read your thoughts on the novel. I did some journalling about a certain passage when Lucy was confined and alone for so long...depression and illness overcame her and the way Bronte describes it is amazing. As I have been there before, I couldn't believe how she could put it to such word pictures.

    I love being a discerning reader. The classics have so many biblical themes and principles in them that modern audiences can't often see or understand. Critics? Definitely not...they see feminism...which is not in Villette at all, understanding the Bronte's and the era they come from. Critics are often out of context and frustrate me.

  19. I want to be a Christian, through and through. I want to see the world, read the world, live my world with the discerning eyes of Jesus as my guide. The closer I draw to him, the easier the task.

    God, keep me to you and your guiding light all the days of my life.

    Thanks, friend, for keeping to the truth.


  20. Andrea,

    This is a wonderful post! I also love reading the classics for many reasons (mostly the time period and beautiful writing style). Your words ring true in this post dear friend for all things should be to the glory of God:).



  21. You have said it so beautifully, my dear friend.

    I cannot thank God enough for giving me this great opportunity of getting to know someone like you.

    I took up Literary Criticism in my university years, and would have loved to join my best friend who pursued a Master's in Comparative Literature and Creative Writing!

    How reading the poets that you quote, Shelley, Byron, Shakespeare, and the great writers, Bronte being one of them... sparks such a delight in my heart.

    I do agree with what you wrote. God is the one who put you together! SO how can you not be what you are? Having become a Christian doesn't mean that we are to turn our backs from what our hearts long for -- as long as we are not dishonoring God with our words, thoughts, choices, priorities, actions... we are all a tribute to the creativity and grand design of the Master Builder!

    Again, thank you for this well written post.

    DO you also love the poetry of George MacDonald, that famous Christian poet who inspired the writings of CS Lewis? I must think you do! And how about Rilke?

    Well, I must end now. We have eternity to spend together!

  22. Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog earlier today. We are kindred spirits! Not only are you a sister in Christ, you blog reflects so many things that I am drawn to. I will be back to visit this little oasis frequently.


  23. Andrea, this is a wonderfully written post and I appreciate all that you say. I take the same view but would not have the words to say it as well as you do here. Thank you!

  24. Brilliant. If I may be so bold to add (not 'must' be done through the eyes of Jesus, but 'is' done through the eyes of Jesus) because of who He is in us. Our problem is recognising it.


Thank you for visiting. I cherish your thoughts. You are special to me, but most of all, you are special to God, who loves you with everlasting love. May your life be swept into His joy and peace.

In the Wonderful Love of Christ our Savior,