|Ruined castle amid the green – from my own trip to Scotland|
The story of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah set in 18thcentury Scotland? Now there’s a novel thought…pun quite possibly intended. 🙂
Liz Curtis Higgs’s Lowlands of Scotland series has rather captured my mind and heart these past several weeks. I’d shied away from Thorn in My Heart, Fair is the Rose, and Whence Came a Prince for a while, as my sister had found the plot lines rather depressing and frustrating. When I finally decided to give them a try, however, I—perhaps partly because my sister had already prepared me for some of the most maddening bits of storyline—loved them.
I had before only known Liz Curtis Higgs through her hilarious, though soul-touching, speaking skills and lighthearted contemporary fiction like Mixed Signals. While I knew her to be a wonderful writer, these books amazed me with the depths and soaring heights of love and loss, heartache, drama, and triumph to which her pen can reach. I cared and felt so very deeply with Jamie, Leana, and Rose through every page of these stories. Seldom have I read such exquisitely written novels, nor discovered such flawed yet incredibly sympathetic characters. I marveled at times at the twistings of the plot and the protagonists’ human hearts…only to remember that the most difficult-to-swallow parts of the story came not from Higgs’s own fertile imagination but from biblical history itself.
Though she freely adapts the patriarchal saga, since of course in 18th century Scotland it ‘twasn’t quite legally possible for a man to be wed to two wives at once—you’ll have to read the books to discover how she accomplishes that!—much of the heart and major plot points of the story are there.
Then this Sunday, our pastor preached on Jacob, about his wrestling with God at the river Jabbok. Of how his family had a history of wrestling with God, seeking their way, how they thought their lives should go, rather than His. Of how we still tend to do that today.
I thought of these novels, and how Jamie, Leana, and Rose—not to mention Rowena (Rebekah) and Lachlan (Laban)—all at different times tried to take matters into their own hands and wrestle for what they wanted rather than waiting on and trusting in the Lord. And of the incredible heartache that came from their choices…both for these fictional characters and for the real biblical people they represented.
Yet God’s grace remained greater than all their sin. He did not withdraw His mercy, not abandon working out His redemptive plan through this flawed human family.
That comforts me.
For I wrestle with Him sometimes. I’ve been realizing lately how very much I want my life to follow the path I think is best. And maybe, my plan isn’t the same as His.
It’s hard to accept that. But with Jacob, when I realize I can’t wrestle any longer, I hope to learn to just hold on. And let Him bless me. In His way, not mine.
This hymn also ministered to me in church this week. It speaks of Jacob too.
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee…
Then with my waking thoughts, bright with Thy praise
Out of my stony griefs, Bethel I’ll raise
So by my woes to be, nearer, my God, to Thee
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.
I read the first book in the trilogy … oh … five years ago? I was amazed by Mrs Higg’s sensitivity as a storyteller and I’ve never forgotten Leana. I’m so glad that you were blessed by the trilogy!
Thank you, Elisabeth! I’m glad you were blessed by these characters too. 🙂