I probably first read Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities in high school. Then I taught it at least once during my six years of teaching. As an adult, I’ve reread it a couple of times. And I still enjoy it.
It may not be everyone’s preferred novel–contemporary novels are written in such a different style that many readers feel bogged down in A Tale of Two Cities. I can understand that.
But who can ignore that wonderful beginning? “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” (Kind of sounds like Dickens was writing about the 21st century, doesn’t it?) Or Jerry Cruncher demanding that his wife quit “pray against him…” Or those memorable ending words. “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done. It is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
But my favorite quote is “Recalled to life,” the title of “Book the First”; A Tale of Two Cities is divided into three books.
Without going into more detail here than necessary, old Dr. Manette had been falsely imprisoned prior to the French Revolution and kept in solitary confinement for a number of years. At last his release was arranged–and none too soon. He was suffering extreme emotional problems at the time of his release. “Recalled to life” describes his release and subsequent journey to recovery.
I referred to that quotation in my yet-unpublished novel, Fifty-Fifty, in which the protagonist becomes convinced he’s going to die at or before the age of fifty and takes refuge on a houseboat, where he lets himself grow fat and slovenly. When he doesn’t die, he realizes that he has been “recalled to life”; he can start really living again.
People frequently get caught up in problems that keep them from living a full life: physical, emotional, and financial. Even spiritual. Guilt can be a horrendous thing to live with.
Some people choose to suffer silently. Others take their problems out on their families, friends, and coworkers. And some of the most hopeless people contemplate or actually commit suicide.
Although people like them need to be “recalled to life,” that’s often not within their ability to do anything about.
God is the only “person” I know of who has that kind of power. After all, he recalled His own Son to life again after His crucifixion. How could He be incapable of dealing with lesser human issues than death?
The twenty-third Psalm says it all. Especially the verse that in one translation says, “He restoreth my soul” and in another, “He refreshes my soul.”
Are you so far down you need help to be “recalled to life”? Ask God for help. He’s only a prayer away.
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“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.
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