GOLDEN-HAIRED EPPIE MARNER

There’s the sad case of the intellectually brilliant and fine woman, [Marian Evans] who wrote numerous great books under the name George Eliot. She drifted away from faith in God and finally professed agnosticism but God still has used her to tell and develop some rich truths about life in her books. One of them is Silas Marner that tells the story of a deeply religious man who through the wickedness of William Dane [his friend and a fellow church-goer] and the disloyalty of Marner’s fiancé he lost his way, moved to Raveloe, became a virtual recluse and came to worship his fifteen-year store of hard-earned gold guineas.

Hidden under a tile in the floor but brought out, gazed on, handled, counted and adored the gold guineas became the god that took the place of the God he no longer had any time for; the God who watched without helping while Marner was subjected to injustice, lies and desertion. The gold under the floor became his life and even that was snatched away when Dunstan Cass robbed him and vanished like a ghost. Sometime later, on a freezing night with snow everywhere a young woman died not far from Marner’s door and her toddler-child seeing the bright blaze of the fire in his house wandered in through the open door for the light and the warmth while Marner is outside in a cataleptic trance.

The weaver is astonished to find a golden-haired child in dirty rags sitting before his fire and as time goes by he begins to think his gold has returned in a different form. Taking the child as his own he finds himself lifted out of his isolation, bitterness and self-absorbed existence. He named her Eppie.

Eliot tells us of the transformation. The gold under the tile had kept him narrow but with the gold of a vibrant, living, adventurous Eppie he couldn’t remain narrow—she drew him out of himself, brought him into contact with a larger, brighter world that generated new thoughts and new wisdom; a wisdom that was used again and again working on ways to please and help her. The growing pile of gold under the tiles drove him to spend more and more hours tied to his loom, blind and deaf to everything living but this golden-haired child so changed him that every moment away from the loom and spent with her seemed like a holiday.

Her joy infected him; her love of life restored his life; her curiosity made him curious and the pleasure of her discoveries brought pleasure to him because he was discovering life along with her and through her. Redemption by transformation was taking place! As he changed he came more and more into contact with the villagers around him and they began to change and even children who would never have come near the strange old man now stood close to him when Eppie was with him. Ripples and more ripples—such is life.

That kind of literature is worth talking about. That kind of person and life is worth talking about. Is it any wonder then that Christians think Jesus is a Lord worth talking about? Read the brief stories for yourself in the Gospels and allow your imagination to go to work as you read. Jesus walked into villages that were like locked-up and heavily curtained houses where sad people sat through life and he tore down the heavy, dust-covered drapes, threw the windows open and let the wind of the Spirit blow through the place.

We don’t need to be told that not everyone has experienced Jesus in this way. Don’t we know that and know it well! The power of the Lord Jesus to transform lives is not coercive, no one is forced; friendship human or divine cannot be forced; it is either gladly accepted or it doesn’t exist. Ultimately, the power of transforming love is a two-way flow. All the dusty miles between Bethlehem and Golgotha make this clear: there are some places naked power can’t enter and the human heart is one of them.

But in their millions down the years, hurt, crabby, bitter, self-centered, isolated, enslaved and wicked people whose sins weren’t all of their own making and their pain certainly wasn’t—down the years millions like that found their lives transformed when Jesus came into them. A random verse, an unwanted religious tract, a stanza of a hymn, a lovely experience, a beautiful friendship, an unexpected word of praise and in comes Jesus. He came in not to narrow or blind, cripple or rob. He came to transform, to uplift, to enrich and enlighten—to give abundant life and millions will swear that that’s exactly what he has done for them though they don’t live in luxury or perfect health or in perfect marriages. They can’t testify to having found material prosperity since Jesus came to them but they can bear vibrant witness that they have found peace and joy and righteousness and hope that will not die since He came.

A Lord like that is worth talking about!

 

This entry was posted in REFLECTIONS ON THIS AND THAT on by .

About Jim McGuiggan

Jim McGuiggan was Ethel's husband for fifty-three years. They have three children and eight grandchildren. Ethel went to be with Christ on Easter Sunday, 2009 at the close of a gallant life. He has written some books including: Celebrating the Wrath of God; Heading Home with God; Life on the Ash Heap; Jesus: Hero of Thy Soul; The God of the Towel, The Scarlet Letter; and The Dragon Slayer.

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