December 17th, 2013
Today is day two of the CSFF Blog Tour, reviewing my second novel, MERLIN’S SHADOW!
Yesterday I covered how God was involved in the novel of Merlin’s Blade.
Today I’d like to broaden that discussion to see how God works in the real world … not just the fictional world of my novel.
(For those new to the topic, read the first article. Basically, I had a few readers question whether God is present in the books of The Merlin Spiral, and so this is my attempt to answer those questions in detail.)
HOW DOES GOD WORK IN THE WORLD?
Well, keeping in mind that I will show God’s direct and supernatural power in a future novel, here are some of the other ways that God works in the world:
- through turning intended evil to good,
- through God’s people, and
- through wider events that he is orchestrating.
And those three can include:
- … through our suffering.
Merlin suffers. People die. Does this happen in real life? Yes. All the time. All around the world. Does God perform miracles? Certainly. Does he always? No.
If I were to pen a novel that somehow promised you that this earthly life will be easy for you if you would just trust God and pray, I would be a liar. God is telling a story of painful redemption through our lives, and far be it from me to pen a novel that isn’t true to that story.
We look at the news and despair at all of the horrible things going on at any moment. But God is intimately involved with his children, working in the cracks where the news reporters can’t see.
Is God working in the novels of The Merlin Spiral? Yes. God chose Merlin for his time, his place, as well as for this epic struggle that is about to commence for the soul of Britain. God is directing Merlin.
One final example.
Near the end of the book, after the final struggle against the Stone, God heals Merlin and Natalenya—but not Owain or Dybris.
One could ask “why not Owain? Why not Dybris?”
Indeed. God can heal every single person on the face of the planet, but he chooses not to.
- God’s ways are not our ways.
- He is Holy, which means “other,” and He doesn’t think like us.
- We see the finite, but God sees the infinite.
- Miracles are not for everyone.
- Instead, God often chooses to be the “still small voice” that speaks to us in the midst of the storm of our suffering.
But remember: God himself suffered when he came down to earth and died upon a cross for our sins.
He knows exactly what he is allowing. Yes, God’s story is mysterious to us. We cannot know God fully, nor his plan for our lives, but we can know Him truly—through his revealed word, through his Spirit, through His suffering, and through his working in our lives.
Here’s an example from my own life.
When I was learning to bronze-cast the hilt and pommel of my version of the sword Excalibur, which is featured in a photograph on the cover of all the novels in The Merlin spiral, I ran into a big problem.
You see, I had ordered my bronze, and I had ordered my crucible, but the bronze chunks were too large to fit in my crucible. And the crucible was made of clay, so it was fragile. I couldn’t chance breaking it.
How did I solve this? I bought a lodge cast-iron pot to melt the bronze in! Ah, just the idea! Iron melts at a higher temp than bronze, so I was good, right?
Well, no. I had the bronze all melted in the furnace, and ran in to get my plaster molds from the oven where I was heating them. While I was on my way back outside, my son started yelling.
The bronze had melted a hole right through the bottom of the iron pot! And it had all fallen into the bottom of the furnace where I had charcoal sitting on angle-irons. It was all lost.
What a catastrophe! What an expensive catastrophe!
I was mad. Why would God allow this to happen?
I had spent months preparing to pour that bronze, and here, within 60 seconds of pouring it, a lot of good bronze was lost, and all my preparation time to boot!
So I called an expert the next day to ask how I could melt these big bronze chunks in a too small crucible, and do you know what he asked me?
“You weren’t about to pour molten bronze into a plaster mold, were you?”
“Yes,” I answered.
You see, I had done pewter casting before, which melts at around 500 degrees. You heat the pewter in the oven and then pour it into a hot plaster mold, and it works great.
I figured that if I could somehow melt bronze at 1800 degrees, I could just pour it into a plaster mold.
“YOU CAN’T DO THAT!” he told me.
And then he went on to explain to me that even though plaster molds feel dry, they actually have water bound up chemically inside the plaster structure. When you pour 1800 degrees bronze into a plaster mold, the water is released and then turns into explosive steam.
The end result?
AN 1800 DEGREE BRONZE VOLCANO!
If God had not allowed the bronze to be lost, I could have ended up in the hospital with severe, life-changing burns. I might have even been blinded or killed, and spent my days like my own character, blind Merlin.
And so it turns out I knew just enough to get myself in trouble, which meant God had to save me from my own stupidity, and he did it through what appeared at first to me to be a minor tragedy and major setback.
And I firmly believe that God works in this way far more often than we realize. For instance, do you really know what kind of person you might have turned out to be without some suffering in your life?
God is not only humbling us, he’s protecting us and teaching us compassion. These barbs are the wounds of a friend who loves us far more than we can ever know.
And this is what I try to portray in The Merlin Spiral. God cleansing, purifying, and working through suffering to benefit his people.
Would you like an example from scripture? If so, then tune in for day 3… !