|Hiking the Rogue River, Oregon (yep, that’s me)
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
— C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
As I wrote The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, the titular character’s clothing became a metaphor. Gowns, petticoats, hose, shoes, and stays—the choosing of them, the altering of them, the discarding and creating of them—reflect the changes taking place in Tamsen’s character as she navigates her challenging—and often unsafe—circumstances. Clothing is a joy to Tamsen, yet when the reader first meets her she feels imprisoned in the beautiful gown she’s forced to don to win a wealthy husband—and a life that deep down she doesn’t want. A life God doesn’t plan for her.
In an outward rejection of that unwanted life, she burns the gown. Tamsen will go through several more changes of garments before all is said and done. Each outward change presents a picture of Tamsen’s attempt to hear God’s voice leading her ever further into a life radically different from anything she’s known. At the end of that path is the woman she desires to be. To reach it, she has to trust in a God who often seems less than safe in His handling. Yet step by step (gown by gown) He’s transforming her, giving her revelation of herself as she pursues Him, until, having reached a place so far beyond the boundaries others once set for her, she joyfully creates a set of clothes unlike any she ever imagined wearing.
God invites His sons and daughters to take His hand and trust Him to lead them through challenge, uncertainty, blessing, hardship, and triumph, embracing the individual adventure He has in store. Not reluctantly, or fretfully, but with the joy that comes in knowing that though He may not be an altogether safe God, He is Good, forever weaving the brilliant hues of mercy and grace through each life’s tapestry.
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned… in a strange country…
Hebrews 11: 8-9
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God…