Eastbound From Flagstaff by Annette Valentine is a marvellous debut novel. The genre is Christian historical, covering the decade of the 1920’s.
The novel is about a journey – a physical journey and a spiritual journey to the heart of God. God never gives up on us. “That God you’re challenging is not going to give up on you, and He’s not going to let you be God either.” No matter how far we go, no matter what we do or think, our Father God, like the father in the prodigal son, waits for us. He longs for us and He desires us. No one is ever too far from the heart of God.
Life hurts. When troubles come, we can rest in God’s arms and trust Him, or we can run from Him in anger. “Those unfair events… hopes and dreams while the Creator stood by.” God is never silent or passive but in our pain, we cannot always see Him. “We’re at liberty to ask our questions, but God’s sovereign.”
The novel shows the two responses to hurt – there are characters who trust God’s goodness in spite of circumstances, and there is a character who blames God and himself, wallowing in anger. “But God… was silent” – or maybe we just aren’t listening? “Your fight with God is one-sided” – wise words spoken in love. Do we have a person who will speak the truth in love to us?
Eastbound From Flagstaff was a powerful novel of discovery. It was a discovery of God’s love and faithfulness but it took in some hard roads along the way.
Sometimes we carry burdens that were never meant for us. “Put your burden down… You’re hanging on to guilt… and lies… Cooperate with the fact that God loves you.” God is a God of love. He wants us to lay our burdens, our guilt and pain at the foot of the cross and exchange them for grace and love.
The characters were well drawn, realistic and easy to empathise with. Life can be hard at times and while it is easy to direct our anger at God, we need to realise that He loves us and He is faithful. It is far better to admit that we do not have the answers but we need to trust that God is good and He will sustain us.
I will leave you with this powerful quote:
“God’s mercy was wider than my wanderings.”
I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.