A Birth of Faith with Nancy Moser

Known for her historical and contemporary fiction alike, Nancy Moser brings a vast array of books to the Christian scene. My personal favorites are her historicals, like Just Jane, Mozart’s Sister, and Washington’s Lady. Her newest release about one of the world’s most fascinating historical couples, Robert & Elizabeth Browning, is entitled How Do I Love Thee? And is at the top of my TBR list 🙂

 To learn more about her many books, check out her website at:

www.nancymoser.com

 Now it’s time for the Christmas Question and Nancy gives us a double blessing!!

 Of all the novels you’ve written, do you have a scene featuring someone’s ‘birth of faith’ (conversion, recommitment, etc) that you found particularly touching or fulfilling to write? why?

 There are two that come to mind. The faith turning-point in the life of 80-year-old Madeline Weaver in Crossroads was very meaningful to me because she was such a feisty, independent woman who’d never seen a reason to believe in God, much less surrender to Him. Yet near the end of her life, she did just that. Her story reminds us that God is very persistent and never gives up on us. 

Faith-turning point from Crossroads by Nancy Moser:

 Madeline Weaver is the 80-year-old matriarch of Weaver, a small Midwestern town.  She’s feisty and stubborn and has refused to accept God.  Now she’s dying, and is in the company of Joan—a Jewish woman with faith-doubts of her own. Maddy waits for Web, the love of her life, to come to her.

Joan had rarely prayed, but she prayed now as she sat beside Madeline’s bed in the Weaver mansion.

Suddenly, Madeline opened her eyes and looked around. “Where’s Web?”

“He’s out talking with Roy and Jenna.” She started to stand. “I’ll get—”

Madeline shook her head. “Not yet. You . . . heathen . . .”

Joan smiled. “Me heathen. But I must admit being a heathen is kind of scary in times of crisis.”

“I’m scared.”

“You’ll be fine.” Joan leaned close and whispered. “I’ve been praying. God is probably so shocked He’s going to give me everything I ask for.”

Madeline smiled, then shook her head slightly. “I’m still . . . I’m scared of what’s after, Joan.

Joan was suddenly overwhelmed. The woman wanted reassurance of heaven? She was not the one to ask. “There’s heaven. You go to heaven.”

Her head still shook. “Not so simple. Web says . . . narrow gate.”

This was not how Joan always thought of it. If there was a heaven, she imagined a huge gate with God letting in everybody—everybody who’d led a good life. And surely Madeline Weaver qualified. Look at what she’d done for the town. “How’s this?” Joan offered. “When you get to heaven, you send me a sign that you’re there. Then we’ll both know.”

“Jesus . . . I must . . . must . . .”

Now Joan was really out of her element. Web! Get in here!

As if hearing her command, the bedroom door opened and Web came in with the others. Joan willingly relinquished her position at the bedside.

Web took Madeline’s hand, leaned down, and kissed it.

Madeline smiled. “Time’s up, old man.”

He shook his head, but he did not argue with her—which surprised Joan. Shouldn’t a person argue with such a statement?

“She’s been asking about heaven,” Joan whispered. “She said something about a narrow gate?”

Web nodded once, then said, “‘You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.’” He pulled her hand to his cheek. “We’ve been together since we were born, Maddy my love. I will not go through eternity without you. I won’t.”

She pulled his hand to her lips and managed a small kiss. “Jesus?”

“Yes, Maddy. Jesus. Like I’ve told you before. He’s the gate.”

She smiled and nodded, then opened her eyes and met his. “Jesus. My Jesus.”

Web sucked in a sob. “Yes, Maddy. Your Jesus. Always yours now. Always.”

Her face softened as if all stress was gone. “You’re a good husband, Web. You’ve always been a good husband.”

He nodded. “I’ll love you always, Maddy. Always. Always.”

“Love you. Always,” she said. There was a small intake of breath, then she let it out, and there was no more. Joan held her own breath, unsure.

But when Web leaned forward and kissed Madeline, when he awkwardly wrapped his arms around her and held her while he sobbed, she knew her friend was gone. She stepped back toward the center of the room, shaking her head. Jenna hugged her as Roy went to the bed.

Web’s face was wet with tears and he kept one hand on Madeline’s shoulder as Roy used his stethoscope, then looked up at Web with a nod. He put a hand on Web’s arm. “You okay?”

Web sniffed, but said, “I will be.”

Jenna hugged him.  “I’m so sorry.”

He nodded.  “We’re all sorry for her passing.  And yet . . .”  He looked back at Madeline, wiped an eye, then took a ragged breath.  “Think of this:  she had her Founder’s Day, she accomplished what she wanted to accomplish. And she accepted Jesus so I know I’ll see her again. In not too many years, we’ll be together as we’ve always been together.”

See her again?  Joan began to cry fresh tears and brushed them away. “But how do you know? How do you know?

Web went to her and pulled her into a hug. “Because He said so,” he whispered.

She pushed away from him feeling slightly angry at his calm. “Said what?”

He captured her right hand in his. “I’ll share everything I know with you, Joan. All of it. Whenever you’re ready.”

She had no idea what he was talking about, but only knew she wasn’t ready to hear much of anything right now. Life wasn’t fair. Not fair at all.

 @COPYRIGHT 2006 NANCY MOSER

   The other faith aha! moment that is special to me is one that happens to Roman Paulsen in John 3:16.  He is such an angry, bitter man, the type of man who would never surrender to anyone, or believe in anything beyond himself. Yet God got him, loved him, lured him, and saved him.  

Faith-turning point from John 3:16 by Nancy Moser:

 Roman Paulsen is an arrogant, forty-something widower, who put all his hopes in his football star son—who has recently died a hero.

 Roman sat in his living room with a Bible in his lap. He sat in the antique chair by the window, the chair he’d never sat in. He figured since he was about to enter foreign territory, it was fitting.

He held Trudy’s Bible. He’d found it on a shelf by the fireplace. The cover was red leather, and the edges of the pages, gold. He closed his eyes and let himself remember his wife holding this book, reading it with a pen clenched in her teeth to mark in it. “Hey, listen to this one, Roman.”

The sound of her voice made his eyes shoot open. She’d read to him from the Bible?

She’d read to him from the Bible.

He’d forgotten that, just as he’d forgotten many of the details surrounding her illness, purposely shoving them into a locked closet in his mind.

Roman ran a hand over the cover, finding the cool texture of the leather appealing. As Trudy’s illness had progressed, this Bible had become a staple beside her bed. In her bed. In her lap.

And when she got really, really sick . . .

Roman sucked in a breath as a memory appeared: the sight of a seven-year-old Billy, sitting at Trudy’s bedside, this Bible open in his lap, with his soft child’s voice reading to her.

Why didn’t I read to her?

More memories gushed from the opened closet. She’d asked him to read to her, but he couldn’t. Wouldn’t. His bitterness toward God had started even before her death. And so their son—who was new to reading—stepped to the plate and fulfilled his mother’s wishes.

Roman drew the Bible toward his chest and bowed his head in shame. Even if he’d been mad at God he should have done what she asked, anything she asked. He shouldn’t have caused her more pain by being difficult.

Selfish.

Suddenly the old pain of her passing rushed to the surface and joined the fresh pain of Billy’s death. Roman began to cry, embracing the Bible as he wished he could embrace his wife and son.

Another memory forced him to stop. The memory of Velvet making him promise to look up the verse.

He’d delayed long enough. He lowered the Bible to his lap, wiped his face with a swipe of his sleeve, and took a cleansing breath. He opened the pages, having no idea where the book of John was located. The margins of the opened page were full of notations in Trudy’s gentle cursive, with some words and phrases underlined and others starred.

He turned the Bible so he could read one of her notes: Something good comes from dark times. Share it! He turned the book straight again and read the words that were underlined: “What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!”

Roman whispered. “Oh, Trudy, even then you were thinking of others.”

He read it again, then his wife’s words. Something good comes from dark times . . . what I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops . . .

The times couldn’t get any darker. Roman couldn’t imagine wanting to share anything from these times.

Uncomfortable with these thoughts, and uncomfortable in the antique chair, he needed to move, and so he pulled the opened book to his chest and moved to the recliner.

Something fell from the Bible. When he bent to pick it up he saw it was a small sealed envelope.

With his name on it: To my dearest Roman

He nearly missed the recliner, but caught himself before he ended up on the floor. He stared at the note. The note his wife obviously thought he would find.

Hoped he would find—if only he would have opened her Bible during his time of grief.

But he hadn’t sought God after her death. Only now, after the death of their son was he finally holding it in his hands—and even this he’d done reluctantly.

Reluctant or not, he was there now, opened Bible in tow, holding a note written thirteen years previous, from the love of his life.

His hands shook as he broke the seal and pulled out the note. A warmth spread over him as he recognized her writing.

 Dearest Roman,

If you’re reading this, I will assume God finally got your attention. Good. Because as I write this . . . I will be leaving you soon. You are angry. I was angry.

But I am past that now. I do not understand the reason God is taking me away from you and Billy, but I accept it. He knows what he’s doing. Please set aside your bitterness and remember the love we shared. Take care of Billy and raise him to be a great man of God. I see the spark of God within him even now. God has important things for him to do. For you to do. Say yes to him as I have.

Love never dies, darling husband. I am with you always.

As is he. Remember: John 3: 16.

 Yours always,

Trudy

 Roman’s heart stopped and only by the shear tenacity of his body’s will to live did it start up again.

The verse. Waiting over thirteen year’s time, intertwining with the same one heralded by the son.

Had Billy seen this note? Is that why he’d chosen John three-sixteen as his own?

Roman turned the envelope over in his hand. Had it been sealed? Or opened when he found it?

He remembered breaking the seal with a finger. Billy had not seen this note.

And yet he had chosen John three-sixteen of his own accord.

Roman shivered. It’s God’s doing.

As were all the three-sixteen references. It was not coincidence. It was not luck or chance. It was God working in his life, trying valiantly to get him to read what had meant so much to his wife and son.

It was time.

Roman flipped through the pages of the Bible, searching for John.

There it was, about three-fourths through. He saw the chapter numbers, and turned the wispy pages to number three. He pulled his finger over the lines until it landed upon number sixteen—which was underlined by Trudy, and starred. In the margin were two words: THE KEY!

Roman finally read the words: For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

His one and only son.

God had given his one and only son. His one and only son had died.

My one and only son has died.

Roman looked up from the Bible and whispered, “He understands.”

As if by command, an excruciating weight was pulled from his shoulders. He was not alone in his grief. There was someone who understood his suffering.

God.

 @COPYRIGHT 2008 NANCY MOSER

 Pepper Here: Wow! Thank you, Nancy, for sharing this wonderfully touching scene and reaffirming the ‘good news’ that we believe.

 God’s words of faith for today:

Matthew 1:23-24

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[a]—which means, “God with us.”

 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.

The most beautiful love note of all time wasn’t written on paper, but on human flesh. God became man. God dwelt among us. God with us.
In that moment God was telling us how much he loved us, because He knew, without the flawless promise and life of Christ, our future was doomed. Jesus had to become a man. He had to do what Adam couldn’t do. He had to obey God perfectly and live a perfect  life, so his perfection could take the place of our imperfection.

He came to be with us and promises to always be with us – forever. We are never alone, and nothing can separate us from his love…not even our own brokeness, bitterness, or shame. He holds us.

He came into the world with the promise to be with us and He left this world with the same promise…

Matthew 28:19-20

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

No matter how dark the way, how alone the moment, or how empty the heart, his promise is forever and always- just has He is.

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