For the final day of A Birth of Faith scenes, I welcome MaryLu Tyndall’s answer. Her swashbuckling novels blend the adventure of Pirates of the Carribean with the romance of Gone With the Wind. Mixed with humor, faith, and a heavy dose of life-threatening situations, her novels have strong-willed heroines and dashing (maybe a bit dangerous) heroes.
Besides Pirate Kings, MaryLu has a new series coming out that takes place around the War of 1812. The first book is due out in August of 2010 and looks fascinating. It’s entitled Surrender the Sea
So, let’s see what answer we get when we cross blades with MaryLu and my Christmas Question:
There is a scene in one of my pirate books, The Reliance, that never fails to bring tears to my eyes. Not because I love my own writing, but because this scene is one which I experienced myself not too many years ago. The hero, Captain Merrick, walked away from God after his wife was killed. He blamed God for her death and dove back into his old life of piracy, pillaging, drinking, and womanizing. But these things no longer satisfied him. Instead, they only caused him further pain and trouble. In this scene, Merrick has been locked in a cell in the hold of a ship. He is the prisoner of a vicious pirate who intends to kill him. Merrick has reached the bottom of the pit he dug for himself. There in the dark, dank, smelly hold of the ship, with rats nipping at his toes, Merrick begins once again to speak to God. I love this scene because it gave me an opportunity to open a tiny window into the spiritual realm and show the reader the evil forces that surround us, trying to lure us away from God. As Merrick begins to repent, these dark forces swarm him, whispering lies into his ears, telling him they won’t relinquish their hold on him:
.We won’t let you go. We won’t let you go.
An overpowering sense of evil and utter hopelessness consumed him. Tortured, moaning screams blared from all around.
“Oh God.” Merrick fell to his knees and covered his ears against the wicked onslaught. “Am I in hell?”
I’m here. A quiet voice spoke in his head. Come home, My son.
Merrick is then assailed by a barrage of lying voices, taunting him, luring him. Only when Merrick quotes scripture and completely repents, turning his life back to God, do they cease.
“No!” Merrick bellowed and threw his hands together, wringing his sweaty palms. “No. Look what has happened to me since I have listened to you. God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Merrick bowed his head. “And in Him, and Him alone, will I place my trust.”
The whispers ceased.
“I’m sorry, Lord. I’m so sorry.” Waves of shame and regret swept through him. “Please forgive me.”
Merrick heard a rush of wind and the sound of a door slamming shut. Then all was silent save for the slap of water against the ship.
The truly impacting thing about this scene is that Merrick doesn’t repent and turn back to God so he can get his way or because God blessed him or because he expected God to bless him. Merrick’s wife is still dead, and his life is a complete disaster. This is a sign of true repentance and true submission—when the heart says: “Not my will, but Yours be done.”
Merrick rose to his feet. “So be it, Father. Whatever Your will is, I must believe it is for the best.” He grabbed the bars and shook them. “Even if I remain in this prison. Even if I die, I am Yours.”
A surge of warmth rose within him, tingling each nerve. Merrick felt as though he rode on the wings of angels, no longer trapped in a prison of iron, but soaring over the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Though his body was confined, his soul flew free.
He was home again.
This is a scene of true repentance. How do I know? Because fifteen years ago, I was exactly in Merrick’s shoes.
Pepper here: MaryLu, this is a beautiful scene and reminder to us that God is still God, no matter the situation or circumstances. In good, bad, distress, joy, or sorrow – He is still the ever-present, faithful Father holding onto us.
Let me leave you all with this from Phillipians 4:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Peace is not an external situation, it’s an internal attitude of the heart. When our focus gets off the center of our peace, then our lives and spirits become muddled with all sorts of distractions. The way to true peace is focus on Christ and His characteristics, His works and Word.
When the angels came to the shepherds up on a hillside over two thousand years ago, they got the shepherds to focus on what was important. What did they say?
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)
When the focus is on God and His glory, then there is peace – no matter the storm.