1. A Severe Mercy I have never been engrossed with the story of one’s life so much as I was while reading Sheldon Vanauken’s A Severe Mercy. I read it during my Junior year of high school and sort of forgot about the story altogether. Then I went to a discussion on it in
I’d spent much time thinking about the questions the story presented without actually letting it sink into any personal application. After time passed and I thought of the story in terms of personal application, the question I found myself asking was, “What is my severe mercy?”…my shining barrier that God must rip away for me to be in complete “inloveness” with God. God had to take Davy from Sheldon so that he could grow to love God. Thus, the very thing Sheldon loved was taken away from him so that he could find True Love. Lewis says it was a severe mercy for God to do so. Severe because it was harsh? Or severe because it was absolutely and painfully necessary? God is taking something away from me that I do not want to let go and in the end, I will find it to be a severe mercy. Harsh…yet necessary. If you have not read the book, you should do so. It is good for your soul. If you have read it, than feel free to share your ideas.
2. Another great book to consider is Frederick Douglass’ Autobiography. I received this book when I was accepted to Torrey and thought, “cool book…maybe I’ll read it sometime.” In this book, I found the life of Frederick Douglass to be much like Augustine’s in Confessions. While Augustine admits that he should have “found’ Christ at a much earlier stage in life,
While the story of Douglass is compelling and heart-wrenching, the most powerful part is his appendix where he writes of slave owners, the slavery scene, and
Such is, very briefly, my view of the religion of this land; and to avoid any misunderstanding, growing out of the use of general terms, I mean, by the religion of this land, that which is revealed in the words, deeds, and actions, of those bodies, north and south, calling themselves Christian churches, and yet in union with slaveholders. It is against religion, as presented by these bodies, that I have felt it my duty to testify.
Like so many unbelievers note, Douglass states the greatest turnoff to Christianity are Christians who don’t act like Christians. Even though it is important to note that the context of Douglass’ appendix was in light of the slavery movement during
"The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians - when they are sombre and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths."
3. Job. The book of Job is terribly frightening and depressing. Depressing because Job’s laments bring sorrow to anyone’s heart. Frightening because it allowed me to realize that even though one can be entirely righteous such as Job, God can be far. In the eyes of God, Job was blameless (1:1). When calamity struck Job, he stated, “The Lord giveth and the Lord hath taketh. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this, Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (). Nevertheless as Job cries out for the Lord to be with him and he cries out for the Lord to have mercy, the Lord does not respond. It may be one of those remarks such as, “The Lord answers prayer with Yes, No, or Wait…” But here was a completely blameless man seeking the will of God and desperately looking for the hope in God, and yet God did not comfort Job in his grief and sorrow. It is utterly frightening and completely appalling. There are times when we can try utter hardest to search for God, and yet He feels so distant. Is this a result of our own spiritual slothfulness? Or must we be patient and wait on the Lord (Isaiah 40:31)? Job was eventually blessed…but it seemed completely despairing that a completely righteous man such as Job called for comfort and received none. The point of this is not to say that God is distant from us…but it is to note that God will test us and will maybe even be far from us no matter how desperate are cries are. Seek the Lord and you will be find Him. Continuously seek the Lord and you will retain Him.