I read my first romance novel this past week. Let me clarify: it wasn’t actually the first if you count me accidentally reading Fifty Shades of Gray, because I’d seen it on the New York Times Bestseller list, and book one of the Outlander series, because a friend had said the Showtime version was nothing short of delightful.
“De-light-ful,” she’d said slowly, emphasizing each syllable as a warm smile spread across her face – and did her cheeks flame red as she said the word as well?
Delightful is definitely one word for it.
But this time, I’d done my homework. I’d known what I was getting into, and as per the recommendation of one voracious reader of a friend, I’d decided to give Truth or Beard a try. Now, I don’t know if I’ll continue reading this romance series, just as I can’t say with certainty whether I’ll continue as an avid reader of the genre.
But I can say I’ll continue to be a fan of redemption.
There ran throughout the book an undeniable thread of rescue: the modern-day version of the damsel in distress tied to the railroad tracks, saved just in the nick of time by the hero of said story. While my inner feminist seethed at the all-too-common theme of a helpless female being rescued by the strong male savior, I also felt myself relaxing into this grand idea of deliverance.
At one point, I closed my Kindle shut. I shut my eyes, dreaming not of muscle-bound redheaded young men (as the aforementioned damsel finds herself dreaming of, in godforsaken page after page of the book). And by the twinkly lights of the Christmas tree, I hummed a hymn of my youth:
Deliver us, O Lord of Truth,
From speech unbacked by deed,
From lives that by their faithlessness,
Deny our spoken creed.
What does it mean to lean into Truth personified in this season of Advent and Epiphany? What does it mean to be changed by the One who helplessly entered a dirty, derelict barn (or so Western Christianity makes us believe), who from the beginning would change the world like no one before or after him? And what does it mean to lean into a time of waiting – waiting for hope, waiting to be changed in word and deed, waiting for deliverance from all that threatens us?
Because, here’s the thing: I hate the waiting. I hate the not knowing. I hate the liminal, in-between space of knowing that Good will come and Truth will arrive and Life will abound, even though afterwards I look back with pointed fingers, shaking my head, whispering, “God, you snarky little bugger, you. You knew what you were doing all along, now didn’t you?”
And I suppose that’s what right now is, at least in my life: it’s the waiting for pointed fingers, waiting for the shake of the head, waiting for the declaration heavenward to the one who’s been with me – and with us – all along.
So, I lie in wait right now.
My family and I, as some of you know, just moved from Oakland, California to Seattle, Washington. Day by day, we wait: we wait for invitations from new friends, so that we don’t always feel like we’re the ones extending ourselves in friendship, and we wait to see what will be revealed when another box is unpacked. We wait for to be seen and called by name in the grocery store, and we wait to not have to pull out the GPS every time we hop in the car, unsure of where we’re going.
We wait to be known, and we wait to be understood, to not have to explain whom we are or where we’ve come from.
We wait for God to hear our cries, for him to answer the prayers of my four-year-old son, when he clasps his hands together at the end of the night, and says, “God, give me some friends, please!”
We wait for deliverance to arrive, to surprise us with joy, to envelop our hearts with a redemption only heaven above can provide.
We wait to be delivered.
And so I ask: is it the same for you, romance novels and old hymns and waiting for redemption alike?