You Had It All Along, My Dear {Book Club}

Have you ever read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum? Some parts are quite violent (like how the Tinman came to be – not at all like the movie!). I read it as a bedtime story to my kids a few years ago, but they didn’t notice the graphic violence. Despite those parts, the reasons I liked the book more than the movie are that 1) the adventure in the book is real, not a dream, and 2) you get to know so much more about the Tinman, Scarecrow, and Lion in the book.

In both the book and the movie, each of the four traveling companions had a single desire: Dorothy wanted to get home, the Tinman wanted a heart, the Scarecrow wanted a brain, and the Lion wanted courage. Through the adventure, they found out that they already had what they most wanted. They just didn’t recognize it. The wizard gave them a token of heart, brain, or courage, as the case was, but the reader/watcher has already seen each of them demonstrate what they thought they lacked. Dorothy was the only one who didn’t seem to already have what she wanted, until Glinda told her, “You had the power all along, my dear,” and the secret of the shoes (which were silver in the book, by the way).

In this week’s section of Jewel of the Nile, Chariline wrestled with surrendering her desire in a way that was too relatable. She confessed she had gone out into the city by herself to look for Vitruvia, despite promising not to go without Theo’s protection. Then Priscilla discussed with her why she made that choice. Chariline had to admit that she decided what she wanted to do then prayed only for help with it, never stopping to ask if God was leading her to go out alone. Priscilla told her, “It’s not the nature of your longing that is at issue. It is the fact that God does not reign over it.” Chariline thought about this, realizing that she “did not trust God to say yes. He had withheld her father from her all her life. Why should he change his mind now? … She trusted herself more than she trusted God.”

I find it easy to believe that God can do anything. I have no trouble understanding that God’s way is always the best way. I can recognize and identify many of God’s good gifts in my life. And yet, I also know that he doesn’t always do what I want. That makes it very difficult to surrender a desire to God because it means accepting that “no” is a possible answer.

The way some people talk about it, though, it sounds as if they believe that surrendering a desire to God is the way to get it. Actually, what surrendering means is that, whether we get what we wanted or not, we will be in fellowship with God. And isn’t that what we actually want anyway? Desires are meant to point us to the One who fulfills them – not so that we get what we want but so that we get to be with him. It’s not exactly like the Wizard of Oz, that we find out we already have what we were looking for, but that what we desired was only a shadow or a hint of what (who) we really desire, maybe without even knowing it.

In the chapters we read this week, Chariline found out who her father was. Kind of like Dorothy learning that the way home was through her magic shoes, Chariline discovered that her father had been in her life since her childhood. I think I’m not alone in having my suspicions of her father’s identity confirmed. What took me by surprise was that he said that the Kandake was the one who told him Chariline’s life was in danger. So who sent the assassin? I have a suspicion, but I’m not sure if I’m right.

Join me in the comments! Were you surprised by these chapters? What has life taught you about surrendering your desires to God?

Next week, we’ll discuss the ending of the book.

Next Month’s Book

Our November book is Mastering the Art of French Eating: From Paris Bistros to Farmhouse Kitchens, Lessons in Food and Love by Ann Mah.

Here’s the schedule for the book:

November 2: Chapters 1-3

November 9: Chapters 4-6

November 16: Chapters 7-8

November 23: Chapters 9-10, Epilogue

November 30: Giving Tuesday

Photo by Nariman Mesharrafa on Unsplash

5 Comments

  1. Bayta Schwarz October 19, 2021

    The story behind the assassin really is the big mystery at this stage! That latest revelation was very confusing…
    And that tension of being honest about your desires and yet holding the answers loosely, was so relatable!

    1. Rachel Kahindi October 26, 2021

      Tension! Yes that’s the word for it. It can be so hard to live with.

  2. Grace L October 19, 2021

    I was surprised by how angry Chariline got when she found out that her real father had been lying to her (or withholding his identity) for so many years. I did read some additional chapters today and saw how that got resolved.

    As for surrendering my desires to God – I have had to do that so much in our overseas work. I have been learning to trust God for His plan and provision as I surrender. And I think the surrendering goes on for as long as we are walking on this earth. Yes, I do believe it is one of the most important lessons that God has for us. Not always easy, but so vital in letting it all go into the Lord’s hands.

    Yes, I think the question about who is the assassin and what are his motives is a major them, but I am also waiting to see how the relationship between Chariline and Theo will be played out. I do believe that they will get together in the end.

    1. Rachel Kahindi October 26, 2021

      I agree. I don’t think we’ll ever grow out of needing to surrender our desires.

  3. Michelle October 29, 2021

    Checking back in here after finishing the book. So the questions are all answered! But I wanted to say Rachel that I love your observations about surrendering. It’s not something we do so that we can somehow ultimately get what we originally wanted. It’s really about our fellowship with him.

    I’ve very much enjoyed the book. Great pick!

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