An enjoyable new biography of our dear Jane fell into my hands. Well, not fell, actually. It was discovered and purchased. But a happy finding it has proved.
Written by a gentleman with literary and theological credentials as long as your arm, its focus is the life circumstances that produced the genius of our beloved writer and that which framed her faith.
In a past post I expressed the desire to learn more of the faith aspect of our Jane. Here then, in the words of the brother to whom she was closest - Henry - is the statement hoped for:
"Jane Austen's hopes of immortality
were built upon the Rock of Ages.
That she deeply felt,
and devoutly acknowledged,
the insigificance of all worldly attainments,
and the worthlessness of all human service,
in the eyes of her heavenly Father.
That she had no other hope of mercy, pardon and peace,
but through the merits and suffers of her Redeemer."
As for 'Jenny' that is the name by which Jane was known to friends and family her life long.
Now, Dear Reader, doesn't this information make your heart happy this day?
So it is written over the arch as you enter our home.
So it is the over-arching reality of my life.
Our family, like all others, consists of the 'righteously impaired'. Our family tree is hung with with dysfunctional, flawed human beings - as are all since The Garden.
Yet, with that, mine is a blessed lineage of faithful lovers and followers of the Faithful God. In all generations, refuge has been found in Him.
This is a humbling thing, not a point of pride.
My parents were unique in their bond of love, yet they remained quite different people.
Each impacted my life bringing separate gifts and influences. But with these differences came balance, a balance in perspective, a point of reference for my life choices. With a heart full of thanksgiving I share them now.
My Mother was a musician, my Father was a troubadour.
My Mother, a teacher of God's Word, My Father a preacher of that Word.
My Mother taught me beige, and sensible shoes - the practical.
My Father taught me rainbows, and bare feet - the joyful.
My Mother read to me and provided books to enjoy;
My Father gave me poetry and showed that diversity in books was good.
My Mother taught me Truth and reality;
My Father taught me Truth in beauty.
My Mother taught me rules and their importance as guides for life;
My Father showed me details and how they enrich life.
My Mother taught me propriety; My Father taught me humor.
My mother taught me spiritual duty; My father taught me spiritual response.
Both taught and expected daily obedience.
By example they taught me the importance and blessings of obeying their Savior and God.
They taught by their lives that God is a trustworthy refuge in all seasons of life.
And they pointed the way and led each of us children to the Savior early in our lives.
So, while this is Father's Day, and so I do indeed honor all the fathers in our clan, still it would have been unfair to only write what Daddy gave me without the balance of Mama's gifts.
So often in the midst of our daily round we take from the Father's hand. We see His provision in small ways yet we go on our way in a sort of bondage to the what ifs regarding our future days or to the if onlys of our past.
It seems our takings do not add to our faith nor build our trust as they should.
Abraham went out not knowing a thing about his future. His faith was not concerned with the entire chain of events that was to be his life. He simply focused on the immediate link of that chain and went out in obedience. Faith leaves something to the Lord! With that sort of faith comes peace. He did not get in a fuss. He did not panic, "neither fetching fears from his yesterdays nor from his tomorrows."
He lived, leaving us an example, what the Psalmist would set down in Psalm 139. "Thou hast beset me behind, Thou has beset me before, Thou hast laid Thine hand upon me." [King James, of course]
Checking out the word 'beset' we learn it is to be hedged up, surrounded, no way out. Does this seem a total oppression or is it rather total protection?
My perception depends on the state of my heart and is reflected in my trust and faith - or lack thereof!
Accepting this truth of besetting, we should be free of panic "not given to hysterical fears".
Beset behind must in truth concern my yesterdays, their deeds, failings, sins. They are taken into account by my advocate. Settled. Beset before concerns my future and all it will hold. Our God not only goes before, He is already there in those days created for me in Eternity Past.
And over all, over me is the pressure of His guiding hand.
Two hymn writers of centuries past tie up these thoughts neatly and sweetly for me.
How from Thy presence should I go
Or whither from Thy Spirit flee
Since all above, around, below
Exist in Thine immensity?
So let Thy grace surround me still
and like a bulwark prove
To guard my soul from every ill
Secured by Sovereign Love.
How I ever and always need to be reminded that I am surrounded by Immensity and Sovereign Love - (add immeasurable grace and mercy). I must remember that whatever This Day seems, it is a good place, a safe place to be.
King Solomon is considered a reliable authority on Life.
The good King stated that 'children's children are the crown of old men.' That being so, it stands to reason that children's children are the gems in an old woman's tiara or coronet. I choose tiara.
This I shall claim from personal experience.
In my case, I am abundantly blessed. There are 9 gems stones in mine - 6 rubies for our young women of excellence and 3 sapphires for our three lads.
Sapphires in their composition is the same as that of rubies - but with the addition of iron. That is what makes for the change in color from red to blue. Iron - that is important to note!
Our five eldest Rubies have graduated to this date. This weekend past saw the graduation of our first Sapphire.
For the Rubies, book learnin' came easily for the most part. Our Sapphires, on the other hand have all had to work and struggle incredibly hard. They have all jumped many hurdles, I dare say probably even shed tears of frustration when no one was looking.
That is why this first accomplishment is a very noteworthy event. A diploma in hand and well earned.
So our heartiest congratulations to the first of our three.
Best wishes as you, with smiling face and brave heart, go into the unforgiving world to carve your career path. You are an overcomer as are your cousins. You will do well, of that we are certain.
So says the Old Woman for herself and the Old Man as well. We are wearing crown and tiara very proudly.
We in the Northwest know water. It falls from the sky in great abundance. It is all about us in streams, rivers, lakes, the sea. It makes green, giving life. It nourishes the fields as well as the soul.
Miss Austen, as well as others from her era speak of 'taking the waters' in spa towns, principally Bath.
But it gets better than even all these. Today I read
"He who believes in Me - who cleaves to, trusts in and relies on Me..
out from his innermost being springs and rivers of living water shall flow continuously."
The only requirements: coming and thirst.
It is the Spirit of God, of course, that is this water given.
This is our power source.
Living water - not marshy, boggy, stagnant,
but living and life giving waters.
of wells of water from which we draw with joy (12.3)
of water provided in the wilderness
of water poured out on the thirsty and flooding the dry ground(43.20)
This water, taken in then flowing out.
No machinery required, no petroleum products used.
It is Eternal, ever flowing as long as the channel is clear of debris.
And it flows abundantly. Nothing mean or stingy here.
At the end of The Book, two promises are found regarding this water of Life from the Fountain.
"I will give freely...
to him who thirsts, who comes and takes freely-
at no cost."
Giving and taking freely,
from the stream/well/fountain that never runs dry.