"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings. . . ." – Philippians 3:10
My new novel, The First Love, features Maggie Esh, an Amish girl who secretly loves an Amish boy named, Jimmy Beiler. But because Maggie is sickly, she fears Jimmy's interest comes only from pity. So she declines his invitation, believing he deserves a strong and healthy wife.
In the summer of 1951, when tent revival meetings come to Lancaster County, inspired by Billy Graham's own crusades, Maggie sneaks off with her Mennonite cousin and hears, for the first time, a message of salvation...and of healing testimonies. She sees people weeping and walking the sawdust aisle to the altar. There, in her seat, she embraces the hope that she might be healed...and, if so, she could then be worthy, at last, of Jimmy's seeming affection.
The First Love's setting is inspired by my own experiences as a young girl attending my pastor-father's tent revivals, where evangelists preached the message of salvation boldly, and where prayer for the sick was offered. I saw, firsthand, the long healing lines, people waiting expectantly for a miracle, some in wheelchairs, others on crutches...and I wondered why God healed some, and not others.
Recently, this story began to form in my heart as I asked myself: How should we respond when it seems that God doesn't answer our prayers? And is the question of healing a matter of (enough) faith or the sovereignty of God?
One of my favorite love stories to date, The First Love will warm your heart as you witness Maggie's tenacious hope to live a normal life with those she cares about...and you may find yourself opening your heart wider to the Lord Jesus Christ, along with her!
Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts with you, while I eagerly look ahead to my Fall 2018 Book Tour to Michigan, September 5-13. Hope to meet many of you there!