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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Room of Marvels

Once in a while you find a really great novel to read. One that changes your perspective on how you view this life, but the way we walk through it. Then there is the aspect of just what happens when we die. Do we see our loved ones again? How can we possibly grasp the wonders of what awaits us in heaven one day? How do we cope with the grief and loss of a loved one while we have to walk the rest of the journey through this life without them?

I think James Bryan Smith did an exceptional job at not only explaining the concepts of what Heaven may in fact look like, but more important explaining why despite all our faithful acts of kindness here on Earth and our prayers, that sometimes God takes people from us anyway. Doesn't seem like a caring God after all does it?

In the novel, Room of Marvels, Tim Hudson, a well known author of Christian Living books,  is a man who is struggling to find purpose in life and a reason to keep his faith in God after the multiple losses of first his only daughter, his best friend and then his mother. These all happened over the course of a couple years and even though Tim still has his wife and son, he struggles with coping with these losses. Despite all the good things he believes he has done, he still wonders how God can take people like his daughter when she had only yet to begin her life. How some days it's a miracle just for him to take a breath. How will he ever be able to move forward in his grief and retain what little faith in God remains.

Tim checks in to St. Stephans Episcopal Monastery for five days in attempt to find some answers to deal with his loss. When he meets with his assigned spiritual director, Brother Taylor during his stay he finds the questions he asks him about his purpose for coming to the monastery a bit challenging. He wants to know what is going on with Tim's relationship with God, and it brings to the surface the anger Tim is feeling about God taking away his loved ones before their time. Tim tells Brother Taylor that despite the fact he writes books telling people how good God, how they should turn their lives over to God, how merciful, just and fair God is, he doesn't believe it anymore.

The advice that Brother Taylor shares with Tim probes deep into the places of his heart and cause him to rethink his losses. He advises him to search his heart and spend some time in silence and wait for God to share some insights into his question of faith. When Tim heads back to his room and before he falls asleep, he asks God to speak to Him, to send him an angel, and then as he sleeps he dreams of being transported to a place on a train. Tim's dream takes him to Heaven where he sees what impact his life has had on the people he interacted with during the time he has been on Earth. He gets an opportunity to renew his faith by learning things from his childhood and even seeing how his life impacted people he had never met. The most impactful lesson I took away from Tim's encounter was dealing with our loss of those we love.

As Tim is talking with Jack and is struggling with the deaths of his loved one and his anger at God, and Jack tells him, "the pain you are feeling is the pain of loss. Your heart is crying out to have them back. This may sound harsh, but think about this Tim, because it is part of our healing. What sort of friend or father or child would you be if you thought so much about your affliction and so much less about their happiness? When we cry, 'Come back,' it is all for our own sake. We never stop to consider whether their return, if it were possible, would be good for them. We want them back in order to restore our happiness. But in truth, we could not wish for anything worse for them. Having once gone through death, to come back and then, at some later date, have their dying to do all over again."

Tim realized that a large part of his grief was really selfish. He wanted them to come back, to walk through the door and resume their lives, to let him have just one more day with them. He realized that his desire was for his own happiness and not theirs.

I received this book through my own purchase because I love books like The Five People You Meet in Heaven or Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. This is the perfect book for someone who has recently experienced a loss and is struggling with their grief and in moving forward in dealing with life without them. I found even though I have experienced a loss, it wasn't like the loss of someone I was close to. This book for me, gave me a different perspective on the impacts we make in the lives of people by the smallest thing we do. It teaches us that we can't earn our way into God's grace and mercy by the things we do or struggle to live a perfect life. This is truly a life changing book for those times in your life when you question if there is something more to the life you're living. It's inspirational, its a healing balm to a grieving and hurting heart and one I can see talking about and rereading many times as I need a solid pick me up in my own walk of faith. I would rate this one a 5 out of 5 stars and would high recommend that EVERYONE read this one! It really will change your life!!

For more information about Room of Marvels, James Bryan Smith, and where to pick up a copy of this book today, please click on the link below:

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