I’ve been reading some of Brett Lott’s books lately thanks to a recent interview of his in World Magazine that I appreciated. Overall, I’ve been a little disappointed. I was expecting a clear, strong portrayal of the gospel–by which I mean neither the neat nor trite fluff of much Christian entertainment media, but the real deal: an honest look at the pain and trial and sin of life in this world through the lens of Christ’s life, hope and redemption in the next. Perhaps others read with more perception than I, but I felt like what I got was a bit more on the opaque side of translucent.
(Of course, I’m hardly one to judge, as my own scribblings tend toward neat, trite fluff…on the clear side of transparent and not in a good way. Oh, I know. I know. Believe me.)
Disappointed–with the exception, that is, of A Song I Knew By Heart. (I’ve also read Jewel and The Man Who Owned Vermont.) In Song, Lott weaves as powerful a story of forgiveness (definitely a gospel theme!) as I’ve read in quite some time. He takes head on the harsh reality of sin and the guilt that so often accompanies it and weaves a touching tale of a woman’s struggle to forgive–not only her enemies, but her friends and especially herself. Ultimately, she learns that true forgiveness and freedom from sin are found only in God.
Too often, sin (of sex, vanity, violence, profanity, pride, etc) is portrayed in books or movies or everywhere in a way that actually makes me covet it. I hate that. I hate to admit it. I assume no one else is affected this way, as I’ve had so many people tell me oh, Cristy, come on. That’s just real life. (Or the flip side: oh, Cristy, come on. It’s just a movie/book/advertisement.)
Maybe. Maybe it is, though I’m not so sure. Here’s what I do know: it’s not reality. In reality, the earthly pleasure of sin is far outweighed in the balance by eternal pain–either Christ’s if we relate to God through Him or ours if we don’t. In A Song I Knew By Heart, sin is ugly and painful and full of consequences…as it must be for forgiveness to have any meaning at all.
And it does. Forgiveness in Lott’s story consists not of easy words or good feelings or vague obligation. It is the fruit of a love that runs as deep as betrayal. It is hard. It is messy. It is humiliating. It is incomplete. In this life, maybe it always will be, I don’t know. I’m still finding out. Either way, it encouraged me so much to find herein a glimpse of the forgiveness that is mine in Christ–full, accomplished, and deeper than my deepest sins.
I needed such a reminder.
Don’t we all?