Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fever Season

Fever Season (Benjamin January, Book 2)I read something fascinating in one of my devotionals the other night. I'm currently reading Warren W. Wiersbe's Be Mature, a commentary on the New Testament book of James. He was discussing James 4:13-17:
Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.

Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it

Wiersbe says: Perhaps James was addressing the wealthy merchants in the assembly. They might have discussed their business deals and boasted about their plans. There is no evidence that they sought the will of God or prayed about their decisions. They measured success in life by how many times they got their own way and accomplished what they had planned.

Read that last sentence again: They measured success in life by how many times they got their own way and accomplished what they had planned.

Who doesn't determine success on those terms!?! For me a good day is one when I am able to check several things off of my list and didn't have to deal with distractions or interruptions. Flat tires, pain days, sickness, bad weather, etc, anything that stops me from completing what I want to, I consider bad. 

How about you? What's a good day for you? One in which you accomplish everything you want to with nothing getting in your way, right? But James (and Wiersbe) are saying that we are seriously wrong. It isn't about our plans and our lists or our success; it's about God's. 

This is such a huge concept, I still don't have my mind completely around it. Today I had planned to go to Mom's to list some stuff for eBay, because both of our families could really use the money right now. But when I woke up this morning I was in such pain I can barely walk. So instead of being upset and cranky, I turned my day over to God. Obviously what I had planned to do was not on His agenda. So I turned the day over to Him. His plans, not mine. His success, not mine. I have no idea what this may mean, and I know I will have to continue to turn my life over to him, not even day by day but minute by minute. I'm looking forward to seeing what His success looks like in my life.

Fever Season by Barbara Hambly is the second book in the Benjamin January series. Benjamin is finally becoming comfortable in his hometown of New Orleans in 1833, returning after a sixteen-year absence and recovering from the events of the previous book, A Free Man of Color. Cholera has settled into the city for the summer, leaving it largely abandoned and his work as a musician in little need, so he's working at the local hospital caring for the many sick and dying from the dread illness known as Bronze John. When a runaway slave named Cora asks for his help getting a message to her lover, Benjamin has no idea what it will do to his life. When Cora's owner is found dead and she is accused of poisoning him and attempting to kill his wife the same way, Benjamin begins trying to discover the truth, but that journey leads him to discover that many slaves and free people of color are disappearing from the city. Eventually that discovery will destroy his reputation and put his life in grave danger. Hambly has recreated the city of New Orleans in all of its complex glory. Benjamin is a hero perfect for his city; he is tortured by his lost love and while he hates how he must never look a white man in the eyes here and is always in fear of losing his freedom, he can't bring himself to leave the city of his birth. Hambly does something completely unexpected in this sequel; she takes all control away from our hero. As the whispering campaign takes away Benjamin's livelihood and reputation, there is little he can do against the accusations, and when he finally takes action, the consequences nearly takes his life. Hambly places Benjamin in true historical events of the city, and retells a controversial and fascinating story through our hero's eyes. By pulling the rug out from under Benjamin so completely, she solidifies readers' affection for him. It's a stunning and completely successful move, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.