I remember the first time I recognized God’s presence. I was about six, and I had a six-year-old type of crisis. I’d just returned from a camp and left behind my favorite doll. I used to snuggle that doll every night, right into my chest, so that when she was missing, that spot felt hollow. I tried bunching up my quilt and cuddling it in that spot, but it didn’t fit quite right. I couldn’t sleep.
So instead, I prayed. God, please help me get my doll back. It’s hard to sleep without her.
To complicate matters, my family was leaving the very next day for Missouri. I could barely sleep with one doll-less night. How would I manage a whole week? Not to mention, she’d been left outside, at a dirty sandy camp. How would she ever survive a single rain storm? There simply wasn’t time to make the several-hours trek north to get her before our vacation, and the mail would never get her there in time. I thought up several plans, but none were feasible.
I prayed through another sleepless night.
The next day, my mom’s sister, my Aunt Joani, called and said she was coming home from the camp a few days early (she’d been working up there). She’d found something she thought I’d want. She showed up at our door–holding my doll!
My six-year-old self saw God so clearly in this. It seemed impossible, and it was, except for God. Evidence of God surfaced all over the place in my life, in some of the worst, most painful circumstances.
In fact, He doesn’t just hint at His presence–He FLOODS our terrible days, our low points, with Himself.
I met fellow writer Kristy Cambron at a writing conference a few years ago, and recognized in her that same awareness of God’s presence, the same dependence on God. That made me like her right away, but I also liked the rest of what I got to know in her. She’s an artsy person, having studied art history, and has a heart overflowing with kindness. She’s one of those people who can make you feel encouraged in only a few sentences (and maybe a hug).
In the years that followed our meeting, she endured many difficult life experiences, all crammed close together, and she clung to God with amazing trust. She saw God working behind the scenes of everything going on in her life, no matter how heartbreaking, and continued to become even kinder, more encouraging, and more trusting. She’s a rare, beautiful person with a heart for God and other people.
And then she poured all of who she is into a book. It’s the most stunning work of art I’ve ever seen on a page. I don’t often do book reviews on this blog, but this book resonated so deeply with me, and I wanted to share a little bit of it with all of you, and tell you what struck me about it.
Following a young Viennese violinist through WWII, Kristy’s story “The Butterfly and the Violin” looks at the question, “where is God in all this mess?” The main character witnesses awful realities–and even endures Auschwitz, a prisoner camp for Jews and their supporters. In the midst of this horrific pain, she struggles to see anything but ugliness in the dreary, heartbreaking camp.
Auschwitz is about the worst place on earth I could imagine being–the worst possible circumstance. Yet Adele recognizes God’s presence there. And not just traces of it–the full-blown, majestic presence of God filling her life. And if God can show up in a desolate, pain-filled concentration camp, how might he flood your awful situation? He was there for six-year-old me, missing my security doll, and He’s been there in my adult life crises, too.
This book is the result of submitting your work to God’s hands, and seeing what He’ll do with it. The truths here are HIS truths–those He desperately wants to share with you to ease your hurt, to bless you with the great magnitude of His personal love for you. There’s absolutely nothing like God’s presence, and it’s portrayed so perfectly through this novel.
I hope you all are as encouraged as I was by reading this wonderful story.