Monday, July 25, 2011

Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa

I love how each time I read the Bible I find something that I didn't notice before. It's often said that God has three answers to prayer: yes, no, and wait. The other night I read something about when God says no, and it gave me hope, and I wanted to share it with you.

In 2 Samuel 7, (you can read the whole story here) David has finally assumed the throne over Israel and Judah. Saul is dead, Ishbosheth is dead, and the tribe of Benjamin surrendered their rights to the throne. The country was beginning to experience its first period of peace since the time of the judges. David summoned the prophet Nathan because he had a great idea for worshiping the Lord; he wanted to build a Temple that would hold the Ark of the Covenant and become the place where all of Israel could worship God. David wanted to show his love and appreciation for God's protection during his time in the wilderness with this structure. Nathan at first said, "Great idea. God loves you, He'll support whatever you do." But when Nathan went back to his home, God appeared to him and gave him a very different message.

Nathan went back to David the following day and told David that he would not be allowed to build a Temple to God; he wasn't the right person for the job. However (and this is a huge however), God had chosen David's line to sit on the throne of Israel forever, and it would be from David's descendants that the Messiah would come.

David rightly focused on the amazing second part of the message and immediately composed a beautiful psalm of praise to God for His love for David and his family. David didn't much mention the fact that God said  "no" to him building the Temple, but I want us to consider this for a few moments. With the knowledge that we have as readers, we understand God's reasoning for not allowing David to build the Temple. David would lose much of his integrity by sleeping with Bathsheba and then killing her husband, and later for his census of Israel. So we, as readers, see God's words and think, "Yeah, that makes sense. He wasn't the man for the job, because while he was a man after God's heart, he committed some terrible sins."

But, David hadn't committed those sins yet! When David asked God if he could build this Temple, he was coming off a record of always asking God's advice before making major decisions, following the Law closely, and respecting God's anointed one, even at great personal cost. So God said "No" knowing what David would do.

The second thing I want you to think about is God's promise to David. Yes, he turned down a dream of David's heart, but what God offered instead was beyond David's imagining. This made me wonder if sometimes when God says "No" to me, if He is instead saying "yes" to something else, but I am so focused on the "No" that I miss it. David's response to God could have been very different if he had only been focused on the "No". He could have reacted with anger, disillusion, and bitterness.

His response of praise and joy is one I need to remember. The next time God says "No" I'm going to pay attention to the rest of the message and see if there is something I may be missing. How about you?

Love Finds You in Amana, IowaLove Finds You in Amana, Iowa by Melanie Dobson is the latest historical romance in the nationwide series. Amalie Wiese loves her life in the Amana colonies, and she volunteered to be one of the few women traveling from New York to the new community home in Iowa in order to finally marry her sweetheart, Friedrich Vincenz, and have her own kitchen house. The couple has been separated for a few years while waiting for Friedrich to come of age to marry, but their time apart has not changed the depth of their love for each other. Friedrich, however, is deeply affected by meeting a Union army officer and a former slave who confront him about his community's refusal to take part in the war. He tries to fight the growing feeling that God wants him to fight against slavery, knowing that he will disappoint not only Amalie, but his best friend Matthias as well, but he eventually gives in to God's urging and signs up in the Iowa Volunteers. Matthias is left behind to try and explain what he doesn't understand to Amalie, as well as fight the feelings he's had for his best friend's girl for ten years. Matthias hides his deep affection for Amalie behind a mask of anger, which makes the young woman even more alone in a new place that is nothing like she expected it to be. Each of these three must follow the Lord and their heart to find where they belong. Dobson pulls readers into this 19th century world through historical detail and great descriptions. Each of the characters is sympathetic, and readers will find themselves torn between Friedrich and Matthias. This romance is moving, heart-breaking, and in the end, full of hope. It's a solid addition to the series.

Thank you to Maryann Palumbo for providing me with a copy of this book for review!