This year, I rediscovered my love for reading and decided to re-read the classics I had read in my youth. I chose Tolstoy's Anna Karenina which I knew that I had enjoyed reading, but really couldn't remember much about it.
I learnt that reading some book as a youth when your whole life is before you and you haven't made too many mistakes is different from reading it as an adult. In my first life, I judged Anna really harshly; however, on reading the book again, I found that I could understand her position.
The shock was that I would never have classed the book as a religious book. However, Anna Karenina ends thus:
'This new feeling has not changed me, has not made me happy and enlightened all of a sudden, as I had dreamed, just like the feeling for my child. There was no surprise in this either. Faith—or not faith—I don't know what it is—but this feeling has come just as imperceptibly through suffering, and has taken firm root in my soul.
"I shall go on in the same way, losing my temper with Ivan the coachman, falling into angry discussions, expressing my opinions tactlessly; there will be still the same wall between the holy of holies of my soul and other people, even my wife; I shall still go on scolding her for my own terror, and being remorseful for it; I shall still be as unable to understand with my reason why I pray, and I shall still go on praying; but my life now, my whole life apart from anything that can happen to me, every minute of it is no more meaningless, as it was before, but it has the positive meaning of goodness, which I have the power to put into it."
One of the main characters has just discovered that there is a God afterall, and this is what he has to say about his realisation.
Isn't this what happens to some of us when we get converted. There really is no Damascus moment, but a surrender and an acceptance, and by faith we know that we've been saved.
In conclusion, in the English Methodist Hymn Book, verse four of Hymn No 380 sums it up:
" Days of darrkness still come o'er me,
Sorrow's path I often tread,
But His presence still is with me;
By His guiding hand I'm led.
Yes, I'll sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me,
Sing it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea'.