I smile at her, pretending to be happy.

But that night, my wish grows like the worst sort of hunger until there is only the hunger and the wish, and the possibility of stars.-

I picked up this book because it was small, and sometimes really small books can be the most interesting. I glanced at the back and it mentioned something about God and the end of the world, and the typeface was okay, so I figured I’d give it a try. I didn’t really have any expectations, which turned out to be a good thing because it would not have met them.

What I mean by that is, this book was weird. I mean, it was a story, but it was bizarre. The point of it was to show the reader what would happen, in novelistic style, if the world were forced to be Christian, but I didn’t see anything at all Christian about it. The way people were acting was not how God would want them to act, and in fact it didn’t seem to be very different from how life is already, so basically it just showed me what would happen if the world were forced to be the type of Christians that, unfortunately, the majority of Christians are today. A lot of Christians today are not the way God really wants us to be. They act like being Christian is a title that makes them worthy of looking down on and judging other people, when actually God calls us to love people and treat them all as equals to each other and to ourselves. Christians should not have to force people to become Christians ~ accepting Jesus is a choice, and that’s what makes a relationship with Him so beautiful. The flaws surrounding Christianity in this book were numerous, but that doesn’t mean Shift didn’t portray accurately what it would be like if the world were forced to become the kind of Christians that don’t necessarily reflect God’s desire for how His children should act.

That last line may have been a bit confusing to a person who isn’t a Christian. But how about we move on from that? The book also said a few things that ARE good for Christians to think about. I’d like to bring up a couple of them here.

I wave my hands around, just to fit in, but what kind of wacko God would want this behavior? How is it faith if we’re being told to think it?

Answer: It isn’t. People don’t use the phrase “leap of faith” for nothing. If you know that something is safe, doing it isn’t an act of faith. For example, bungee jumpers, rock climbers, and skydivers ~ people who do those things regularly ~ don’t have the kind of fear that first-timers do at that particular sport, because they’ve done it enough to know that their ropes, cables, and harnesses are going to hold ~ and that the parachute is going to open. It’s not a leap of faith for them any more than ziplining is for someone who has done it a number of times, because they know it’s going to turn out fine.

Faith requires a good deal of, well, faith. Faith is trust. It’s knowing that even though things may look bleak, and you see no way out of it, God has the situation in His hands and since He has brought you to it, He will bring you through it. It’s remembering that He never throws something at you that you can’t handle. It’s trusting Him to make the best of a situation that you don’t see a bright side to.

Growing up in a Christian lifestyle, you hear all the buzzwords. You are told to have faith in God, and so you grow up believing you do, but you never really know until it’s tested. And faith doesn’t just spring out of nowhere ~ just like building trust with a friend, you have to spend time with God and get to know Him before you will trust Him. Being told to have faith doesn’t automatically grant it to you.

“You know, Adrian,” Lenora looks at me and says, “sometimes I think heaven is right here. Not later. Now. Heaven.”

And with the sky wide open, and the forest green, I know what she means.

“Hell, too,” she adds.

We always talk about heaven and hell as if they’re a long way off. They’re not something you experience until you die, and your time here on Earth is just the time you get to prove yourself before you’re sent off to one of those places.

But I’ve found that’s not really the case. Heaven and hell are real places, and they’re obviously far different than Earth, but you can see glimpses of them here too. Satan is the lord of hell, and he works here on Earth ~ you can see his exploits through the evil people do, and that shows us a bit of hell.

Heaven? It’s EVERYWHERE.

God created this Earth, and while it’s not nearly as glorious as Heaven is, if you look you can see it in the stars on a cloudless night in the country, the love of a mother for her child, the brilliant green of the leaves on a summer day, the tiny flowers poking up despite all odds where they shouldn’t be able to grow. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I can’t stress enough how much beauty there is in the world that people simply do not choose to see.

And I wonder if heaven could be anyplace, as long as there is love.