Monday, August 9, 2010

My thoughts on Stepping Heavenward

I received my very own copy of Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss a couple of days ago, it arrived very shortly after ordering, which I was happy for! I started reading large portions right from the start, it was very captivating. I could identify with a lot of what "Katy" wrestled with coming to faith, as I had experienced myself.

An example of the aforementioned, is when Katy wanted to "do something big for God", and she was gently counseled by Dr. Cabot to "do everything you do for Him who has loved you and given Himself for you." --page 37

Another favorite is when she was so disappointed and harsh with herself and realizes her love, how it is so imperfect and so selfish, and in her own estimation, not worth her giving nor God's accepting. When she shared that with Dr. Cabot he painted a word picture for her, of a "little infant caressing its mother, would you have me say to it, "You selfish child, how dare you pretend to caress your mother that way? You are quite unable to appreciate her character, you love her merely because she loves you, treats you kindly? ...You are as yet but a babe in Christ. You love your God and Saviour because He first loved you. The time will come when the character of your love will become changed into one which sees and feels the beauty and the perfection of its object, and if you could be assured that He no longer looked on your with favor, you would still cling to Him with devoted affection".--P 38 To me this was powerful, and simple. Sometimes what can be difficult to grasp, can be made so simple with analogies, and I suspect that's why Christ favored parables in His teachings as well. How wise! and reassuring!

When Katy thought she should give up her pleasures of this world, for fear they may take her from her God she was counseled to go on singing. Her power of entertaining and gratifying her friends was given by God, but to "pray without ceasing, that you may sing from pure benevolence and not from pure self-love". I think that is an issue a lot of people must struggle with, and what a sound bit of advice given.--p. 48 It takes time and growth to find that balance, and I have not found it yet to be sure.

I love how it is made clear on p. 58 that the work of making one Holy is His work, not the individuals, and yet the individual must avoid laying hindrances in His way, and to exercise faith in Him as he is just as willing and able to give sanctification as He was to give redemption. How powerful, how true, and yet how easy to forget!! I have to remind myself of this very often as a fairly new Christian. I am finding this book very edifying and reassuring.

I find it amusing and at once sweet how she once dreaded Ernest, and later comes to love him so! His faults just melt away before her very eyes. ;-) I am relieved and so happy that her engagement to Charles came to an end with purity intact. The way she asserts her belonging to God above all and not wanting to become absorbed in marital love to the point of losing that shows her real heart for God. Also, it is frustrating to see how she longs for her husband, and him having no clue, choosing to confide in his sister and leave his wife alone so much of the time. And yet, when it is all brought out in the open in honest communication, no matter how difficult, mutual understanding is found and love is deepened.

Oh how much she wanted her lonely mother to move into her new home with her new husband and she, and how quickly that was thwarted. How well it was that she had a godly mother reminding her that it was God that had chosen to send her this trial, of father-in-law and sister-in-law coming into her home at the very start of her married life. How wise to remember that God is in control of all, and truly it is easy to see her mama's eyes were fixed on Him. What a godly example to follow in! As a reader, we can see points of Katy's character being challenged and molded, indeed often painful, as she is chiseled in her sanctification during these many trials.

There is much more that has touched me, as her attending the death of the woman and offering the last prayer before her passing out of this life into the next. How her eyes were opened to her husband's work as a ministry alongside sickly and dying people who need him.

I will close here for now. I am a little less than halfway into the book. I very much look forward to my reading time! Thank you Marqueta for suggesting this book, and hosting this month. =) Eager to hear your thoughts soon~

update: 8/6--
To hear how worn out and overwhelmed dear Katy is, in keeping up with all her domestic duties, I have to say it is exactly how I felt while homeschooling last year. I could be very sharp and short, yet hated myself for it; by years end I was ready to give up, and yet I could not be at peace with that decision. Wondering how it will work out with this book.....

update: 8/7--
I have finished this charming book. I went from feeling kinship with young Katy, understanding so many of her common yet difficult struggles within herself, to yearning for the type of mentor she came to find herself visiting and gleaning nuggets of wisdom from. Over time, I came to see the picture of 'iron sharpening iron' throughout her life, first as she sought wisdom from others, had many trying experiences that deepened her faith, and later as she passed doses of wisdom onto those with less experience than herself. What a beautiful picture as her faith comes full circle, and it was not lost on me that her writings, remain a sort of mentor still for those who read today.

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