Friday, July 29, 2011

The Conclusion of The Stones by Eleanor Gustafson

--by COTT Sr. Editor, April Gardner

As I finished the last pages of this epic biblical novel, I asked myself what had impacted me most. What truth would I carry away with me? I found my own thoughts summed up on one of the last pages.

David is laying on his deathbed. Asaph has discovered a sack of five smooth stones under David’s pillow and asks the reason for them. “My Lord, are they connected with…Goliath?...David answers, No…small stones…to remind me…God uses weak things—stones…half-grown he-goats…broken, wayward kings—to conquer giants, vast armies. What was I against  Absalom? Only Hushai’s wit saved me. I hold the stones, feel…not my power…but God’s. Keep them Asaph. The power is there, but only for those who know their own weakness.”

Powerful words. Makes me want to run outdoors to collect my own stones, to carry them in my purse for rubbing when I’m feeling weak…or prideful. Either way, there is nothing we can do without God.
In a day when the Holy Spirit descended only occasionally upon men, Ellie says her in Study Guide, “when Samuel anointed David to replace Saul, we’re told that the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily from that day on.” What a gift!

It was that Spirit that led David to be the king that he was. Ellie states in her Study Guide, “He sinned fervently, but he also repented fervently, which set him apart…” Aren’t you glad David sinned? Pride, disobedience, adultery, murder--to name a few. If he hadn’t, we wouldn’t have had a chance to see God’s mercy and love toward a truly repentant heart. “A man’s heart—that’s where the sum of his life rests…And Yahweh knows me, everything about me, yet…love me still. Asaph, what can I do? What can I say? Who can bear such love?” (David, The Stones)

Imagine what it will be like to stand before the Great White Throne and an Almighty God? We’ll be aware of every black sin we committed against him, but He will see nothing but the blood of his Son covering us from head to foot. Who can bear even the thought of such love?

Thank you, Ellie, for driving that truth home for me, for your countless hours of dedication toward this amazing work of biblical fiction. Do you care to give us a peek into your next project? Will it be biblical, or are you trying your hand at something new?

Here’s a question Ellie has for her readers. It, along with many others, can be found in her Study Guide, which I highly recommend. Even without the novel, it makes an excellent Bible study.

How can a person’s sin ultimately bring pleasure and even glory to God?

Ellie, it's been such a pleasure getting to know you this month! I've learned so much through reading The Stones. Thank you for taking part in our COTT Book Club!

Next week, we'll be diving into Delia Latham's, Destiny's Dream. Here's a little about the book. Get your copy here!

Is a little respect too much to ask at a parent’s funeral?

Apparently it is for Destiny May. Clay Gallagher is built like a small mountain and far more vocal than is fitting when he shows up late to her mother’s “going away party.” When it turns out he’s not even at the right funeral, Destiny demands retribution in the form of an escape from the day’s dreary proceedings. Spending time with a handsome stranger who makes her laugh is more therapeutic than fighting with her overbearing family.

Clay finds Destiny beautiful, charming...and intelligent. So why is she stubbornly determined to open a Christian dating service? Clay has little respect for such a frivolous profession, and doesn’t think the small, conservative town of Castle Creek will welcome such a progressive business. But when Destiny is threatened by an anonymous caller who deeply resents her and what she does for a living, Clay makes it his business to keep the saucy redhead out of harm’s way.

Trouble is, spending time in her company weakens his defenses, and Destiny may be the one thing Clay can’t escape...if he even wants to.


Delia Latham said...

Wow. April, what a wonderful summation post! Not having read The Stones, I nevertheless felt the power of David's deathbed scene. What an amazing truth! I'm awed by Ellie Gustafson's obvious wisdom and insight into the Word of God! I'm humbled, and encouraged to move closer and seek more from my own relationship with Christ. Ellie is definitely a hard act to follow!

Ellie Gustafson said...

Oh, April, as I read your words, I was close to tears. Yes, the words of the novel are powerful, but the power originates in God's Word, not me. I simply tried to be a transmitter of the power behind David, both the good and the bad in him. I had totally forgotten about the stones under David’s pillow, and you’re right—they do serve as tokens of our own weakness and vulnerability.

God’s love means so much to me, and the words I put in David’s mouth when he was talking with Nathan about building a temple are emotions I have felt strongly myself.

“Nathan, there are times when I feel I might die like Uzzah. Not from touching the ark, but from just holding out my love to God. Love can be dangerous, Nathan. A fire is consuming my heart, and if I were to articulate that fire, I’m not sure I’d survive. It needs an altar.”

You ask what’s next, and will it be another biblical character? The short answer is no; I am an experimenter. My first book was a basic, “Can I do this?” trial run, the second a time travel, the third fantasy, then David. Number five, currently sitting on an agent’s desk, is modern-day fiction in which I have tried to show God power not only redemptively, but in breaking and shaping and using his servants in dark places. The book I’m currently working on, requiring my recent trip to N. Dakota, is perhaps my only intentional love story—not fluff, mind you, but it ends with a smashing wedding that contains a secret ingredient of my own manufacture! : )

And Delia—you jumped in while I was writing this! Thank you for your kind words and desire to move in on God. I will do my best to follow your adventures with COTT, though necessarily from the sidelines. Godspeed on your writing ventures!

I am deeply grateful to April and Michelle and Gail and Jennifer for their input and participation in the discussion. I have learned much (especially about Facebook in the School for Stupid Bookers) and have been much blessed.

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