God’s Perfect Plans
Set in 1855, America is divided over the question of slavery. The South upholds this abhorrent practice whilst the North kicks against it, with pockets of people helping escaped slaves. Men are all created equal and should never be divided by colour. “It is not right for human beings to be treated as personal property just because of their skin colour.” Sharlene MacLaren shows just how awful this practice is. There are some uncomfortable moments in the novel. Sharlene MacLaren does not sugar coat the attitudes of the South who were uncaring at best and brutal at worst.
The novel has God at its heart. It is focused on a devout Quaker community. Characters pray to God for guidance and listen for His answers. “She climbed to a high spot on Sunset Ridge… and listened for God’s voice.” They realise that God’s plans for their lives are the best. They include God in every aspect of their lives. This links in to the theme of trust. “Our job is to trust Him in all circumstances.” Being a Christian does not mean a trouble free life but it does mean that in times of difficulty God walks alongside us, sustaining us. When we cannot see the way ahead, we need to step out into the darkness and trust God who holds us in His hands.
Families are important – blood family and God’s family. Sharlene MacLaren shows how it is important to obey your earthly parents but if their will is in opposition to God’s plan then it is to Him we must submit.
There is the topic of arranged marriages within the novel. Parents make matches based on prospects and not love. Love is the most important quality within a marriage. Understandably parents want the best for their children but when their focus is on stuff and not God, their focus is wrong. Our happiness is never tied up in stuff.
There is the theme of new creations. When we say yes to Jesus we are washed clean. Our past is forgiven and forgotten. There is no guilt or condemnation in Christ Jesus. We receive a free gift of grace. It is available for all. No one is excluded so we must not exclude ourselves. “I’m not sure I’m good enough.” The good news is that grace is free. We could never earn it and we do not deserve it but grace is freely given to all.
I really enjoyed Summer On Sunset Ridge. It was my first book by Sharlene MacLaren but will not be my last. I loved the way Sharlene MacLaren used the authentic Quaker language which helped the reader to feel immersed in the community. There were some great life lessons about the heart of God to be learnt too.
A smashing novel.
I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.