Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Book Review: Enoch Roden’s Training

Most of the fiction books I read are either Lamplighter Rare Collector Series books or books I am pre-reading for school. My most recent Lamplighter book was Enoch Roden’s Training by Hesba Stretton. After I purchased this book, a friend told me that she and her children had “struggled through” it and found it to be very slow. So as I started reading it, I had very low expectations. I’m happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised.

Perhaps it’s just the situation I find myself in right now, but I found this book to be very interesting and full of life lessons. Young Enoch faces very difficult life situations in this story. His father has died. His older brother has run away to be a sailor. His mother is injured and he is the only one in his family who is able to work to support himself, his mother, his grandmother, and a little orphan girl who is staying with them.

Enoch sincerely wants to trust God to take care of him and his family, but when that help doesn’t come as quickly as he would like or in the way he expects, his faith gets shaky. Instead of relying on God’s strength, he tries to do things in his own strength. Instead of seeing small daily provisions as coming from God, he sees these things as the fruit of his own labor. Thus, he robs God of the thanksgiving and praise due to Him and he robs himself of the comfort of resting in the certainty of God’s loving care and protection.

Is anyone squirming in their seat yet? Oh, wait. That’s me.

I think I can relate to Enoch so well because I tend to do the same thing. So often I try to do things in my own strength and then I expect a fairytale-like blessing. If things go well (meaning “the way I want them to go”), I think I deserve credit for it. If things don’t go well (again, according to MY definition), I murmur and complain. This book made me contemplate the delicate balance of our responsibility to work and our full reliance on God for the results. It’s like the farmer who is faithful to do his part to prepare the ground, plant the seed, and water it. After that, he goes to bed. He can do no more but trust God to cause the seeds to grow into a bountiful harvest. But I digress…

In the book, as in life, God is faithfully working in His own perfect way and in His own perfect timing. There are many other sub-plots that I haven’t talked about here such as the “prodigal son” parallel with the brother who ran off to be a sailor; the older sister of the orphan girl who also tried to provide for her family in her own strength; and the … well, I can’t tell you that or I’ll ruin part of the story!

This book is a good tool to spur discussions with your children about God’s providence and how He is always working to accomplish His good purposes, even when we can’t see it with our finite, sinful human eyes.

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