Monthly Archives: May 2014

The Bible and Ten Favorite Classics

A friend at a dinner party once suggested a game—if we were marooned on a desert island, which book would we want with us and why. Then she looked directly at me and said, “And don’t choose the Bible, Hope.” At the time, I was a little irritated—and yes, if I’m honest, maybe a bit embarrassed—that she singled me out as one of the few Christians at the table. I was also a little disappointed in myself that I hadn’t even considered the Bible before she pointed her finger at me. As a former English major, teacher, and voracious reader, I’d already thought of several books to choose from before her caustic comment.

That night, I didn’t have a comeback. I just swallowed my exasperation and played along. Later, however, after replaying the night in my mind several times, I realized that the Bible would be the perfect book to have on a desert island. It contains every kind of story a reader could want—romance (Song of Solomon and Ruth and Boaz), history (the entire Bible), humor (Balaam’s talking donkey), magic (several stories including the sorcerers in Pharaoh’s court), adventure/action/shipwrecks, giant men and giant fish.

Those are a tiny bit of the stories found within the books of the Bible. What about the admonitions against fear and for strength and the many, many verses of encouragement throughout the Old and New Testaments? Wouldn’t the Bible would be the perfect book for a shipwrecked person?


So, yes, I’d choose the Bible. Then—if I could grab a few more before the ship sank, these are my ten favorite books I’d choose to carry with me (in no particular order):

  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  3. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  5. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  6. Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons
  7. The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
  8. My Antonia by Willa Cather
  9. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

The tenth choice is purposely blank. I like to keep my options open.


Simon’s Lesson

In past posts, I’ve written about my sons’ journeys to West Point. Last year, Quinn was accepted, but Lane was medically disqualified because of childhood asthma.

 This spring, Lane re-took the methacholine challenge test and passed it, overruling the asthma diagnosis from his medical chart. Yea. Praise the Lord.

He received a senator’s and a congressman’s nomination to re-apply for West Point. He worked hard all year at UNC-Chapel Hill with his academic classes and as a freshman ROTC member, earning coveted spots on the Army 10-miler Run in Washington, DC and the Ranger Challenge team. He earned the respect of his ROTC upperclassmen through good decisions, a positive attitude, and a willing spirit.

Everything looked excellent for his second try at the military academy.

I prayed earnestly for God’s will for his life. But even while those prayers rose from my heart, I kept dreaming of his acceptance. Thoughts like “When Lane has to survive Beast Barracks,” or “At Plebe-Parent Weekend next year” regularly flitted across my brain.

Recently, Lane received a lovely letter from West Point announcing that although he was “academically qualified” and “medically qualified” (Praise God again), he couldn’t be offered a placement in the class of 2018 because of “shrinking class sizes” and “budget cuts.”

Lane said he was fine. He worried about Quinn, his twin who wanted his brother to experience West Point with him. Of all of us, Quinn probably was the most disappointed.

Driving him home from college, I reminded Lane of Simon of Cyrene, the Jewish man who had arrived in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover but was forced to carry Jesus’ cross on the way to His crucifixion. Simon had his plan in mind, but God had another one.

I likened Lane’s story to Simon’s. “God has a plan for you, Lane, and because it’s God’s plan, it’ll be a great one.” (Jeremiah 29:11 is one of our favorite verses.)

Simon had worked hard and traveled a long way from north Africa to Jerusalem, maybe anticipating being part of the Jerusalem Passover for the first time in his life. He never expected to be part of the horrible experience of a crucifixion.

Thousands of years later, however, we’re still discussing him and learning from him. This incident affected him so much that it seems he shared his experience with his family. His sons, Rufus and Alexander, were known to the early church and are mentioned in the Bible as well. (Mark 15:21)

Lane said, “I’m fine, Mom. I know I’m supposed to be at Carolina. All the time I was re-applying, I felt like I was slamming up against God’s will. I look at it this way—I’m supposed to be a missionary for those guys in my suite.”

Well, okay then. Lane’s got it. He didn’t need Simon’s story.

Pretty sure his mom did.