Yesterday, I read the final pages of Beth Moore’s, The Undoing of Saint Silvanus. It’s bittersweet to finish a book like this. While it’s nice to know the full story, on the other hand, it’s sad to say goodbye to characters you’ve come to know and love- even if they are fictional. I even tried to slow my reading pace and delay the inevitability of the end drawing near. For a full week the book went from the front seat of my minivan, to the living room coffee table, and finally to my bedside table at the end of each day- all without being opened. (We are so weird sometimes, aren’t we? Or maybe that’s just me.)
Some books hit me harder than others- and I usually don’t know which one it will be on the front end, and rarely is it the one I expect. As I closed this book, my mind quickly wandered to its author and the impact this woman as had on me since I was introduced to her so many years ago. Now seems to be as good a time as ever to share a little about it. After all, I can’t think of anyone else who has had as profound effect on my spiritual life as this woman. To use her own characters, it’s as if I was Jillian and she, Adella (though we’ve never met).
While I had a history in the church, sixteen years ago, I was fresh in my faith and finally open to studying the Bible in a new way. Before, I read the Bible because I was supposed to, now I was reading the Bible because I wanted to. That subtle difference was one of the biggest miracles God has ever done in my heart- to give me the desire to want to.
I signed up for a Bible study on a new college campus called, Jesus the One and Only. I had never done a Bible study with a workbook, (never knew such thing existed), nor did I know the leader or any other of the girls attending. Looking back it was a small miracle I even showed up that first night. Being determined to turn over a new leaf, I showed up, and by the time the leader turned off the DVD to wrap up session one, my heart was a wreck. I remember thinking; I don’t know if I really ever knew Jesus. I just knew a lot about Him.
As I continued to grow in my faith over the next several years, I went through Beth’s other studies Breaking Free & Believing God (twice!) with other college students, as I in turn began leading. Believing God was one of those studies at the time I thought everyone needed and needed regularly. The message hit me so hard and spoke to me so personally.
Since being at South Bay Church, I’ve led both Esther and James– and even let Beth talk me into memorizing the whole stinkin’ book of James. This was precisely when God began moving in my heart to pursue adoption. (Repeating the verse, ‘True religion in the sight of God the father is caring for orphans and widows in their distress…” has a way of doing things to both your heart and your mind.) Now here I am four years later and soon will celebrate our adopted sons being home now for two years. That one event in my life I can trace back to one Bible study led by one woman, who over the course of the last couple decades has faithfully studied the Word of God and keeps letting us pull up a chair.
God has used Beth Moore as a mentor (just from a distance) to disciple me and teach me how to study the Word of God. I’ve become more confident in what I’m learning from Scripture on my own as a result of her teaching all those years ago. Sometimes we just need someone to show us that it can be done for a little while.
And now Beth has a novel. Now, I must be honest and say, I’m not big on fiction. Maybe I should be, but if you scan my bookshelves you will find very few novels. With the exception of C.S. Lewis’s, Chronicles of Narnia, most of the fiction I’ve read has been in the last couple of years, and I’ve done it out of the belief that it will help me become a better writer (we’ll see about that). But I jumped at the chance to read this book- even pre-ordered it. I just had to see how she would write it. And you guys, I was blown away!
Barnes & Noble must have thought I needed to read this book asap because without realizing it, the book was sitting on my doorstep almost a full month before it was supposed to release. (I had pre-ordered it at the beginning of summer when I learned about it so I wouldn’t forget to buy it, but I didn’t pay attention to the date.)
My husband asked about it a couple days in and this is what I told him, “If you didn’t know she wrote Bible studies, this book surely wouldn’t give it away, but when you know she writes Bible studies, you know why certain points are made.”
And that remains true to the end.
The story is captivating; the characters are riveting. There is suspense, tension, and drama to the very end. It made me cry real tears and laugh out loud. I love that it cut straight to the core of real life issues, I love the vividness of descriptions, and I sure wish I could visit Saint Silvanus, but since I can’t, this raised in the South, now Bay Area livin’ girl now most certainly wants to visit New Orleans.
Thank you Beth for a wonderful story to curl up with.