Everyone has gone through something that has changed them. For some, it could be a relationship. For others, it might be a sermon or particularly moving conference. For many, however, something as unassuming as a book can force them to rethink their entire way of life!
“Be as careful of the books you read, as of the company you keep; for your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former as the latter.”
Just like in life, the words you put into your brain can and will define you. I was blessed enough to have many God-fearing book lovers in my life, and they pointed me towards two books that I can now say have changed my life.
The first book is “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten-Boom. I first read this in the 8th grade, right around the time I was learning about World War II in history. For those who don’t know, “The Hiding Place” is an auto-biography about Corrie Ten-Boom, a watchmaker’s daughter and Christian living in Poland at the start of the German invasion that started World War II. She and her family risk their lives hiding Jews and becoming an underground railroad for people attempting to flee the country. Through many circumstances, including some first class double spy betrayal, Corrie and her family are discovered and sent to concentration camps.
Normally, I have a really hard time with stories like this, that deal with racial hatred and plain evil. It just really frustrates me to no end, and I just can’t enjoy the story knowing these things really happened and real people were forced to go through such awful things. The thing that really stood out in this book for me, though, was Corrie’s strong faith, and the solid faith of her family through all that hardship. The story is full of trials that would break so many people, but, because she had God, she was able to survive, and, in the end, she survived the whole war.
I was pretty young when I read “The Hiding Place”, and, even though I have been a Christian for most of my life, it really hit me how strong Corrie’s faith was, and how God never left her, even in the concentration camps, and eventually got her out all together. It made me evaluate my own faith, and I had no choice but come to the conclusion that God is good, and that I have a great life, which, at the angst-ridden age of 13 was something I sorely needed.
Even now, “The Hiding Place” is still one of my favorite books, and I have read it several times. Apart from the faith punch in the face it gave me in 8th grade, it’s also a very good read, being very well written and telling an interesting story.
Some people may think this book is too mature for their young readers, but it’s a great story of God’s power over the evil of this world, and it may just give them the kick in the pants they need to realize how awesome God really is!
“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.”
― William Styron
― William Styron
The second book was also one I read for school, but later….in my senior year of high school. “The Pilgrim’s Progress” was written by John Bunyan and is considered a religious allegory.
I’m sure most of you have heard of this book, but if not, I’m sure you’re wondering what’s so wonderful about it. “the Pilgrim’s Progress” follows the journey of Christian who, on discovering that his life of sin would soon bring his death, left his evil ways and went looking for God and the Celestial city. Along the way, he meets many characters, some on the same journey as he is and very willing to go it together…some, not so much.
On my first read-through, “The Pilgrim’s Progress” seemed like a simplified telling of the Christian walk of life. It even included some of the bible verses turned into characters and places, such as the “Valley of the shadow of death” found in Psalms. On my second time through, though, I began to realize just how deep this book was! Honestly, I can’t even explain it properly. All I can really do is advise you to read it more than once, and, if possible, listen to it instead of reading it. That’s what I had to do. I have heard it said that “The Pilgrim’s Progress” is the best work of fiction ever written….but it isn’t really fiction. It’s like dragnet. The names and faces have been changed to protect the innocent…but the story will ring true every time!
I’d have to say that “The Pilgrim’s Progress” changed me because it was the first time I had really been able to understand the concepts shared in the Bible. I’ve read the Bible, sure, but I often struggled to fully grasp what they were trying to say. “The Pilgrim’s Progress” gives all the major(and a few minor) lessons from the Bible, but in story form…and it sure helped that all the characters had names like Evangelist, Mr. Worldly Wiseman, and Talkative. It made it easier to keep track of what was going on!
“Life is too short to read books that I'm not enjoying”
Even though I first read these books as a school project, I have since re-read them several times simply because these are two great books that get me thinking! January is a time of making goals and resolutions, and if reading more is one of yours, I definitely recommend these two!