Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Sacrifice of Another

Lately, I have been thinking of the effects of grace in my life, and my thoughts keep taking me to a book I read as a child, the title and author of which I cannot remember.

In the story (set in the 1950s or 1960s, I think), a very poor widow and her children come to live as caretakers on an old, ruined Victorian estate in England. The children are fascinated by the mansion, which was partly burned in the 1800s, killing some Victorian children. By a strange incidence of time travel (they explain it as time being a wheel with rungs, and where a rung meets the wheel, travel in time is possible), they begin to interact with the Victorian children and discover that their deaths were caused by the neglect of their guardian, the family solicitor.

Anyway, the part I keep recalling is when the rest of the ruin catches fire, trapping the "nowadays" children. The weird time travel thing is still going on, and the Victorian solicitor comes in time to walk the children through the burning house and out of the fire. The kids are instructed to hold his hand and not to let go or look at him, no matter what.

As the girl is ushered by the old solicitor through the extremely hot and flaming rooms, she does not feel warm at all. Instead, a coolness pervades her body and she turns to the old man, amazed, to comment that she can't feel the heat at all. She is shocked to see his face a contortion of agony, as he grits his teeth and says fiercely, "Look ahead!"

He is taking the punishing heat of the flames in her stead. She cannot feel a thing. The incredible torment of fire is to her but a cool and gracious breeze.

This is what I think of when I think of the Lord's dying grace. By its complete and utter graciousness, we cannot understand the suffering He went through. He doesn't even want us to. But our thoughts of His suffering ought to motivate us to obey. The keeping of His dying love in the forefront of our minds is a way to be not weary in well doing, because there are dire and necessary punishments we have been saved from, by the tremendous sacrifice of Another. And this Person, who is so gracious and kind, is preparing a place for us, the ones who are the cause of His suffering. Amazing.

(All analogy falls apart eventually. In the book the solicitor is a sinner trying to put his old wrongs to rights in order to be granted rest. Regardless, the portion of the story that describes his actions during the second fire calls to my mind the sacrifice of Christ in a very powerful way.)

If anyone else has read the book or knows the name/author, will you put it in the comments? I'd like to find the book for my kids. It just goes to show that all truth is God's truth, even if you find it in a pseudo-Victorian time travel and ghost story. Especially there, I guess.


Anonymous said...

maybe the same author who wrote "A wrinkle in Time"?

Anonymous said...

Look on the Stump the Bookseller website, . They've had queries for a couple of similar books recently: old house, past/present issues, and a fire at the end. Or you can post a query yourself for a couple of dollars.

Anonymous said...

OK, I have your book. It's The Ghosts, by Antonia Barber. Happy New Year!

From an Amazon review: The story starts in Camden Town, London at the end of World War One. It is Christmas & an old mysterious man knocks the door of the Allen family, the recently widowed Mrs Allen,and her children Jamie, Lucy & baby Benjamin. The old man claims to be a solicitor & offers Mrs Allen a job as a caretaker of an old run down country house. Due to their impoverished situation Mrs Allen accepts the old man's offer. Mrs Allen & the children move into a caretaker's cottage in the grounds of the old house. They soon discover that the old man is not what he seems & that he sought them out to help him. Soon, it becomes apparent to Jamie & Lucy that they are there to help two children from the past to put right a terrible wrong. However, in order to do this they have to travel back through time exactly 100 years.....

Mother Auma said...

That is exactly it, Mama Squirrel! Thank you so much. We are going to see if they have it at the library.

And thanks for the Stump The Bookseller link. I will have to put that in my favorites.

Anonymous, I read this book around the same time I read A Wrinkle in Time, and the two concepts of time are similar, if I recall correctly, although the L'Engle book talks about a tesser, which might be different. The science in the L'Engle book went over my head. Thanks for the comment!

Anonymous said...

Funny...I read this book when I was around ten years old. I have wondered for years what the title and author were. I could see the cover clearly in my mind. It has a different cover now apparently, but I remember I really liked it at the time. Of course, I can't enough about it to recommend it now that I am a mother myself. I don't think my mother ever knew what I was reading. I don't think parents in general paid attention to what we were reading back then. They grew up on different books. Books that probably had little questionable content to worry over.

Anyway, I really like your analogy. I'm going to have to get a copy of the book now just for old time's sake. ;)

Mother Auma said...

Firefly, you make a good point about not remembering. I don't think there is anything bad in the book, but there could be. It's been a long time since I was twelve.

Anonymous said...

I went and bought the book, read it and LOVED IT! It is so good. I love the analogy's...they actually use the same analogy's in the book. I appreciate your blogs, keep 'em coming!