Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Robe: A book review.

The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas

"Everything belonged to him; but he never owned anything."


The Robe was a gripping narrative surrounding the events after Jesus’s resurrection. The characters are vivid, the scenes are memorable, and the message is life altering.

It took me a few pages to get into the language, but once my mind adjusted, it was hooked. For a few days, when I didn’t have the pages opened on my lap, I found myself thinking about the story. The main character – Jesus – never makes an appearance, but His life is reflected on by those who knew and loved Him.

It is historical fiction, meaning there are fictional elements. The whole idea of the Robe potentially being magical carried the plot along, but I didn’t waste my time thinking about it. Instead, I appreciated the clever retelling of well-known stories, making them come alive again in my mind. (I had to read the passage of Stephen’s martyrdom out-loud to the kids, it moved me so much.)

My one disappointment:  the very last line. He ends with the words, “she said.” It bothered me to end such an epic with such plain language, as though he was rushed as he finished the novel. Just a simple switch of the phrase, putting “she said” to the beginning of the quote would have ended the book a little more dramatically, but that’s just me being nit-picky. You’ll have to read it for yourself to see if this bothers you too… but start at the beginning!


Trying to formulate words for the elements that struck me about the book, it’s hard to say them without sounding trite. Did I learn anything new? No. So to type it out so simply seems… so basic.

But somehow, being placed for the last few days in the time of Jesus, interviewing His followers and seeing life change, it made me wish for a simpler motive, purpose, plan for my life. To live like Him and tell others about Him.

To be fair. Kind. Loyal. A listener. A helper. Good. Gracious. Compassionate. Full of faith. Wanting to live to please Him, so if He were to appear beside me at any moment, He would be proud and smile.

My heart longs for this. To tell others about His life and miraculous conquering over death. His new Kingdom, placed in our hearts, not of this world. How we who follow Him will join Him and not experience the death that others fear.

How unimportant the things of this world are. Money. Vacations. Homes. Clothes. Math Facts and Prepositions and Latin Roots. Yes, we do have a need for these things, but we aren’t to live for them.

“'He could have had things, if he wanted them… He had a way with children – and animals – and birds.' Justice laughed softly, and exhaled a nostalgic sigh. 'Yes – he had a way with them. When he would leave the shop to go home, there was always a lot of children along—and dogs. Everything belonged to him; but he never owned anything. He often said that he pitied people who toiled and schemed and worried and cheated to possess a lot of things; and then had to stand guard over them to see that they weren’t stolen or destroyed by moths and rust.'”  The Robe, page 220

I want to hold onto this simple faith, uncomplicated, so my life is changed and full of love for those around me – the people He died for.  

But when I walk back in the house – leaving this nice patio I’m typing on, surrounded by a breeze and corn fields – when I walk back inside, I’ll have to fold the towels and wash the breakfast dishes. Maybe play a board game or color a picture. There are a few dozen emails I haven’t replied to, and some other to-do’s that need attending.

How would Jesus have approached this?

With patience. Kindness. Faithfulness. Joy in doing the work God has for me to do today. Constantly in communication with the Father.

Oh Jesus, help me remember. Help me to not get caught up in it all. To be here, but to be always looking up to the sky – patiently waiting for your return for me.

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