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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Light in the Darkness – How Reading a Vampire Book Taught Me More about Faith - Re-Establishing Trust

(Click for previous chapter: Attacks from Within)

Throughout the Twilight Saga, Bella displays a worshipful attitude toward Edward. Whether she’s mad, glad, thrilled, or broken, she values him above all else, even herself. At her darkest hour, even in the dangerous bowels of the vampire kingdom, Volterra, she sees him as her everything, the reason for living and fighting and surviving. She’s not completely whole without him, and no substitute fully satisfies her. He is her all in all.

However, after they escape Volterra and go home to Forks together, after she wakes up and he’s still there holding her hand… she does not trust him.

She loves him, wants him, idolizes him, would do anything for him, but she has yet to believe he won’t leave her again. She doesn’t trust.

Seems warranted, after all, he left her cold turkey in the forest with the declaration that he didn’t want her any more.

Okay, I can see how she might be hesitant.

Problem is, everything that happened was based on a wrong belief.

So what does it take for Bella to regain trust in her perfect lover?

The first words Edward said after Bella slammed into him keeping him from stepping out into the sunlight in Volterra, the first thing he said when she’s in his arms again was, “Amazing… Carlisle was right.” (NM pg. 452) What he meant was that an afterlife existed for one such as him, that he held his beloved there (since he thought she was dead too), and for him that constituted Heaven.

For a guy who didn’t want her any more, those were pretty tender words.

He goes on to quote Shakespeare and declare that even if he had landed in hell, he’d take it because he could sense her nearness.

Maybe Bella was too concerned at the moment that he get out of the sunlight, too terrified that at any moment the Volturi would sweep down and destroy them, too distracted with fear to hear him whisper those accepting, loving words in her ear. But before Edward could elaborate, Volturi did show up and commanded their attention. For whatever reason, Bella didn’t believe what she heard. It wasn’t enough to reestablish trust.

Throughout the encounter with the Volturi, Edward’s actions spoke volumes, but only to those who listened, everyone except Bella. First he tried to keep Bella from having to follow Demetri and Felix into the castle at all. Then he practically carried her through the passageways, offering encouraging whispers, holding her tightly and kissing her hair. He even has the sense to stop touching her when she got too cold. Everything he does just in that short walk shouts that he is super-sensitive to her wellbeing. And yet, Bella rationalized each of his actions, explained them away as meaningless based on what she believed to be true. It wasn’t enough to reestablish trust.

Edward kicked it up a notch in the presence of the formidable Volturi when he threw himself between Bella and Jane, the vampire with the ability to make her victim believe they are in excruciating pain. While he lay writhing on the floor, did it not occur to Bella why he endured such agony? She says, “It felt like my head would explode from the pain of watching this.” (NM pg. 475) And yet, although primarily concerned for his comfort and safety, she did not translate his actions into proof of true love. It still wasn’t enough to reestablish trust.

As they waited to be released from the Volturi stronghold, Bella soaked up every touch, every look, every word from her perfect lover, hungry for all of it, but believing that it would be gone before she blinked. She noticed Edward looked “thirsty,” a dangerous condition for him to be in with her so close, and yet he reassured her of his perfect control in that regard. If she’d read between the lines, she’d have realized what he meant – that the last thing he could ever do was harm her, that he wanted her alive and well and in his arms.

But she doesn’t read between the lines. She explains away the good feelings stirring in her heart as fantasy. Even when Edward and Alice discussed the meaning of La tua cantante and the fact that Bella’s blood “sings” to him, Bella did not detect the intimacy or devotion in his voice. It all was not enough to reestablish trust.

The Volterra event concluded with Edward facing an irate Charlie (Bella’s dad) and delivering her to the safety of her own bed himself. Bella’s exhausted, but clung to Edward, terrified she’d never see him again. Even his promise, “I won’t be far,” (NM pg 499) does not comfort her.

All the proof was there – and yet Bella went to sleep that night not trusting him, her light, the one she adored and loved beyond all other.

What did it take, then, for trust to be reestablished in her heart?

It came down to one thing. She had to make a choice.

Once she examined all the evidence, including everything that happened leading up to and during her wilderness, she discovered and embraced the fact that he’d never stopped loving her.

She decided to believe.

So, what will it take for you to trust God, especially after a wilderness experience that put everything you thought you knew through the blender?

Will His tender promises whispered throughout His Word permeate your concerns? Or will lingering fear and doubt distract you?

Will His actions, from putting on flesh and bearing a gruesome, painful death in your place to granting you a heartbeat or a full meal today, draw you back into His trustworthy embrace? Or will you rationalize His sacrifice and explain away each token of His love as meaningless?

Will worshiping him and feeling pain for His suffering translate into day-to-day trust in His love for you?

Can you read between the lines, look beyond what this world is telling you, and believe Him when He holds you near? Or will you buy the lies and wish He was more than a mere fantasy?

How about when He touches your heart with the words, “I won’t be far,” and reaches across realms to comfort you? Will you accept the proof of His presence and His love?

Like Bella, we have evidence to examine, some of which comes from within the wilderness experience. That evidence is proof that our Perfect Lover never stopped loving us, even in our darkest hour.

If the pain from your experience is too overwhelming, too sharp in your memory, consider this. While Edward and Bella were being ushered through the labyrinth in the Volterra stronghold, they came up against a drain grate in the floor. They had to go down it in order to get where they were going. Bella couldn’t see the bottom of this hole because it was dark. The unknown loomed below her. But Alice had dropped through first, and Edward encouraged her to follow, telling her that Alice would catch her. Bella had to make the decision to drop herself through that hole based on what Edward assured her to be true. He helped her, held her arms, made sure Alice was ready to catch her from far below, and then the text says, “Edward let me fall.” (NM pg. 458)

That gives me chills. It sums up the entire book, really. He allowed her to drop into dark, scary nothingness. And when Alice caught her, Bella realized she’d have bruises. So the fall hurt.

However, Edward knew Alice would catch Bella. He knew that it was necessary to let Bella fall to continue their journey and not get eaten by their vampire escorts. He knew that within nano-seconds, he’d be right next to her once again, holding and supporting and helping her through the frightening maze.

Sometimes it feels like God’s let us fall. (Feels like is key – His word says, “Cast your cares on the Lord [a.k.a. trust Him] and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22) Or, we do fall, but only because we let go of Him (behave in an unrighteous manner). Those falls hurt, leave bruises. But all the while, He knows He’s there to catch us, and He knows that momentarily, a blink of an eye compared to eternity, He’ll be right by our side again. If that blink was all it took, would you let the falling destroy your trust in Him? When enduring that which He has ordained as “best” for you will prepare you to spend the rest of forever with your Perfect Lover?

So what will it take to trust Him?

A choice. That’s all. Decide to believe.

Like Bella, we have so much to look forward to if we choose to place our trust in our Perfect Lover.

(click for next chapter - The Final Leap: A Formal Proposal)

(photos by photobucket.com)

4 comments:

KM Wilsher said...

I've got some spiritual and emotional bruises this week. . .This morning, I decide to believe and to trust in my perfect Lover.

Thanks Lori!

lynnrush said...

Very powerful!

Lori Lundquist said...

Thanks, sister/friends, for stopping by! Always appreciate your comments! :-)
Sorry, KM, about your bruises. Praying for you, girl!

SarahtheBaker said...

Right on! You are such an encouragement, Lori. I so value your insights and take comfort in seeing Jesus through your eyes. :)