Over the course of the past couple weeks, I have seen, heard, read, experienced, and learned so many things–things that, at first glance, seem to have no connection at all. Of course, we all know that life, in God’s perfect plan, doesn’t happen that way. Everything is connected. Everything has purpose. Everything is meant to teach us and to lead us to a closer relationship with God and with each other.
Here’s my take on these seemingly random, but no doubt interconnected, occurrences…
My latest novel, The Devil’s Fortune, was released on March 22nd. I am humbled by the emails, Facebook messages, and reviews I am receiving regarding this book. It has certainly struck a chord with many readers, and I love that they are enjoying Courtney’s journey through life and through the renovation of her ancestor’s colonial home. It’s a book about searching–searching for treasure, searching for one’s roots, searching for healing, searching for one’s identity, searching for love, and searching for God’s purpose in one’s life. I think part of the reason the book has touched so many is because we are all searching for one or more of those things. Life seems to be a never-ending series of searches. Sometimes, as in my book, all of the things one is searching for can be found back where the search first began, often right in front of us all along.
On the day after my launch celebration, I was blessed to be able to sell my books at the Maryland Day Celebration at the St. Clement’s Island Museum. As part of the celebration, a cross was displayed that was recently found at Georgetown University. The cross, identified by etched writing along the beams, was brought to the New World in 1634 on the Ark or the Dove, and was probably the very cross used in the first Mass said in the colonies after the landing on St. Clement’s Island on March 25, 1634. Finding the cross had become the mission of Father G. Ronald Murphy, a Jesuit priest at the university. He told the large crowd in attendance that, upon learning the cross was somewhere on the university’s campus, he searched every room, chapel, and closet to no avail. After searching a storage room on the campus, filled with liturgical vestments and vessels, university artifacts, and even Civil War weapons turned in by students returning from war, Father gave up his futile search. His attention veered toward the sabres hanging on a far wall, and he moved toward them in interest, his quest to find the cross sadly abandoned. Before reaching the swords, Father stumbled over something on the ground and fell flat on his face. Turning to see what had caused him to trip, Father discovered the cross, lying on the floor at his feet. He literally tripped over the very cross for which he had been searching. And isn’t that the way life often goes?
Sometimes we spend hours, days, even years, searching for something that we believe is “out there,” perhaps just beyond our grasp, often right in front of our face but hidden from view. So many people turn to alcohol or drugs, thinking those things will help with their search. If only they could understand that those things are hindering their search, not leading them on to a deeper understanding of themselves but just the opposite–allowing them to run and hide rather than seek the truth. Some people search for meaning by trying to develop relationships, often ones that are unhealthy or stagnant. They look for someone else to show them their purpose in life instead of seeking wisdom and answers from their creator. Some people ignore the truth altogether, searching for the answer they want instead of the answer they need.
Last Sunday’s Gospel reading was the story of the Prodigal Son. Talk about searching! The young man was on a search for happiness, fulfillment, perhaps his purpose in life. Maybe he really didn’t know what he was even searching for. He believed that, whatever it was he was seeking, could not be found in his father’s house, so he asked for his share of his father’s estate, and he left in search of answers. He continued to search. He searched in far-off lands, in dens of darkness and sin, and “squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation” (Luke 15:13). When he did not find what he was searching for, he returned home where his father waited with open arms. Somewhere, we all have a loved one waiting with open arms. No matter how far we run in search of life, love, ourselves, there is a place where we are wanted, where we can find purpose. Even if nobody on earth is left to welcome you home, God waits with open arms for you to discover Him. He has known you and loved you for all eternity.
This past weekend, I saw the unforgettable movie, Unplanned. Throughout the movie, it was apparent that Abby Johnson, former director of the largest and most successful Planned Parenthood in the country, was searching for truth but refused to see it. Like so many, she allowed others to persuade her that white was black and wrong was right. She ignored those who tried to make her see the obvious, which was right in front of her, the truth she should have tripped over; but she listened to the lies and the manipulations until the day she witnessed an abortion and finally saw it for what it was–the painful eradication of a human life.
This morning I spent an hour in Adoration at our church. For the entire hour, I prayed for wisdom and guidance. I, too, am searching for answers and divine intercession. I am dealing with a personal matter that just won’t go away. It haunts me in my sleep and plagues my every waking hour. I blame it for so many things, and I just want it to leave us alone, but there are reminders everywhere–in the books I read, the shows I watch, and the news I hear and see every single morning. I want to escape it, but I can’t. It makes me angry. It fills me with overwhelming sadness. It makes me want to question why, what good can possibly come of it? For an hour this morning, I prayed for an end to the repercussions of this one event and comfort for all of us who are suffering because of it. I prayed for wisdom for the searching and healing for the suffering. I know that the search is going to take a turn. I can feel it, and I fear those things that lurk around the corner, the unknown tide that is coming our way. I am searching for the right words to say, the right things to do, and the strength and wisdom to follow through, to see the search to the end. But I am no different from you.
My struggles are my own. My fears are my own. My search will be part of my journey. But aren’t you searching for something, too? Aren’t we all? How will you proceed? What path will you choose? And when we will all be given the gift of wisdom, the realization that the answer is most likely right in front of us, waiting for us to stumble upon it.
What I was writing about a year ago this week: Following the Heart.
Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018).