Lynne Tagawa is married with four grown sons and three marvelous grandbabies. She’s written a Texas history curriculum in narrative form, Sam Houston’s Republic, and The Shenandoah Road, a story of the Great Awakening. Lynne lives with her husband in South Texas.
The Last Straw
The Book of Job describes a man who has come to the end of himself. Some sufferings he could bear, even some we might think unbearable: the loss of his children. “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21) This is his famous initial reaction.
But then Satan proposes to inflict physical suffering on the man, claiming that this would indeed be the last straw. Job would curse God.
It almost works.
He complains. And complains. He wishes he’d never been born. And he wrestles with God, saying, essentially, that the Lord had stricken him for no reason, that his hands were clean.
We all know the end of the story, that God reveals himself to Job. And in so doing, Job sees things clearly. “I am vile . . . Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 40:4;42:6)
Perhaps you’ve been there. I know I have. Physical things haven’t served to bring me to the end of myself—I’ve dealt with those a long time—but other things have. An unjust accusation that pierces to the root of hidden pride. Ouch!
The story of Job shows us that even the strongest believer can waver in the face of affliction. He never left his faith; his eyes were always facing true north. But there was grit in his eyes. He couldn’t see clearly. The Lord used the situation to grow him in the understanding of himself. The understanding of who God is. And the understanding of grace.
Sometimes when we think ourselves strong, we are the most susceptible to this kind of stumbling. Job was outwardly righteous. Even in his heart he had determined to do no wrong—not to “look upon a maid.” He cared for the needy. But he needed to grow.
My character John Russell is a man like that. A strong believer. But he faces several trials, all in a row, and he finally comes to that “Job moment.” An excerpt from my book, The Shenandoah Road:
More tree limbs brushed against his shirt, and branches plucked at his hair. Not far away was the stream—it had a strange name, so he called it the Quakers’ stream instead, having met a few of the families settled along its length. He could almost smell the water, sensing the limpid heaviness that surrounded creeks and ponds.
A curtain of hanging willow branches blocked his way. He must be near the water’s edge. John slid his hands among the slender boughs and parted them, easing his way forward until the ground softened under his feet.
He was exhausted, but no matter. He kicked off his moccasins.
Lord, give me grace … I don’t know how to pray. Maybe I don’t even want to.
Starlight glimmered on the surface of the water, and a peaceful gurgling met his ears. He predicted slimy algae-covered rocks along the edge and stepped carefully as he made his way into the stream.
He was prepared for the cold of the water, but still the icy fingers surprised him, coming to mid-thigh and saturating his breeches instantly. It was August, but the water from the hills never really warmed. He squatted and leaned back, spread his arms, and floated. The aching of his body eased, but the refreshing water couldn’t reach his heart. Above him, pinpoints of light pierced the velvet blackness, shining down upon his misery.
He made the stars also.
John blinked and started at the verse that came to his mind. He sat up.
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding.
He plunged his head forward into the stream and immersed himself. Then he arose, dripping, water running into his eyes.
And then the tears started.
More about The Shenandoah Road:
John Russell’s heart aches from the loss of his wife, but the Shenandoah Valley frontiersman needs to marry again for his daughter’s sake. At first he believes he has found the right young woman, despite their differences in background, but his faith falters when time reveals she isn’t quite what she seemed. Can he truly love her? And what about his own failings?
Unlike her disgraced sister, Abigail Williams obeys the Commandments. At least, she thinks herself a Christian until a buckskin-clad newcomer courts her. He treats her kindly but also introduces her to a sermon by the controversial preacher, George Whitefield. Her self-righteousness is shattered, and she wonders about their relationship. If she confesses her lack of faith, will John continue to love her?
Available in print at many fine retailers, including Amazon, and as an ebook on kindle.