(Photo by Selma Komisky)
By Michelle Ochen
Books are remarkable packages filled with imaginations, knowledge, and challenges. The things you read stay with you long after closing the cover. This requires caution in what we allow our eyes to receive and our minds to retain. While reading a book, you engage your mind and memory, so choose wisely what you read. I would like to share a variety of books that have had a significant positive influence on my life.
The first is “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan. Birthed through a dream within the walls of a jail, this story gives a tangible picture to our faith, presenting our walk with the Lord as a pilgrim leaving his home in pursuit of the celestial city. The pilgrim encounters much temptation upon the journey that can be correlated to the temptations we face in this life: fear, doubt, worldly affairs, persecution, failure, weaknesses and perseverance. In every difficulty, the pilgrim learns more of the Master of the celestial city, the value of his faith, and the hope of the promised destination. You will find yourself compassionate towards pilgrim and even see yourself in him. The book is a spiritual treasure with visuals that can be applied to our spiritual walk with the Lord.
The second book I would recommend is of fictional base but helped my understanding of God’s great love for His people. We have heard the idea of the Church being the bride of Christ, but I struggled to wrap my mind around such an idea until I read “Jeru” by Gene Edwards. It helped walk me through the story of Genesis through Revelation, with a perspective from eternity’s view. In an exciting drama of love, the author, tells of God’s great love to His people. As you read and are swept up into the most beautiful story of love, balance out the fictional style of writing with the beautiful picture for a better understanding.
Number three will thrill the hearts of those desiring a life of overseas missions. Adoniram Judson was a Baptist missionary to Burma. He lost two of his wives to illness, along with many children who encountered the hardships of missionary life. Married to three incredible women over the course of his ministry life, the three wives journal entries make up this book. Reading their faith, perseverance, and perspective on life and trials, will challenge your walk with the Lord. It will cause a reevaluating of what things are complained about, to an appreciation for the small things. These three women demonstrated unwavering faithfulness to God’s call upon their lives as both missionaries and wives. The collection of journal entries can be found by Arabella W. Stuart titled “Lives of the Three Mrs. Judsons.”
Another enjoyable journal-style read is Elizabeth Prentiss’ novel “Stepping Heavenward.” Which follows the life of a young woman’s move from adolescence to womanhood. The pages are filled with transparency, realness, and insight into the beauty of being the woman you are called to be. Since the first time I read, I have held onto this lesson; If I trust God to be the Savior of my life, to have saved me from my past sins, then how is it that I then stop trusting Him to save me from my daily sins? If I began with His delivering power alone, why do I put an unnecessary burden on myself to change my behavior? He must be my Savior every day and save me from my flesh, I must allow my Savior to keep saving me!
The last book is of the classic British literature realm. Broadway and Hollywood have presented their interpretation, but in reading the book alone, Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables” creatively displays an understanding of grace and redemption. A man in bondage to sin and hopelessness is transformed by the kind act of another. His journey of learning to love and walk in a newness of life—defined not by his past but by who he chooses to be day by day. His kind actions towards others upon life’s path, weave together into a beautiful story of how redemption can only come by grace over the past and how the law can never forget or forgive the past. The story can be summed up in this phrase, “To love another is to see the face of God.”
Do any of these story lines inspire you? Then pull up a chair and open up a good book. Allow your mind to journey, and your heart to be challenged with a positive story. Enjoy!