Monday, May 11, 2009
Joan of Arc, a Woman of Courage and Faith
Less than two years ago Joan of Arc was nothing more to me than some historical figure that got burned at the stake. The mention of her name affected me about as much as a five mile per hour breeze on an August afternoon. Ignorance is not bliss.
When my neighborhood book club read Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain it was as if a gale force wind engulfed me. Her story stirred something inside of me. Now the mention of her name evokes passion and a desire to speak up and tell others of the amazing young life of this courageous girl.
I say courageous rather than brave—for many think of her as brave, leading armies into battle against insurmountable odds—because of what she did before her infamous storming of bastilles. What she did required much more than bravery. Bravery implies fearlessness in meeting danger. Courage means dealing with something difficult instead of withdrawing from it. She received communication from God and acted upon it with pure child-like faith, nothing wavering. That took tremendous courage.
Imagine yourself in her shoes. How would you react if God asked you to leave your family, go in search for a disinherited king in enemy territory, persuade him to let you lead his demoralized army against a parasitic military power that is taking over your country, and then promise to be victorious within a few months time—and help the king gain his rightful crown to boot? I would dare say you would be more qualified than her, having an education and living in a day when women are recognized as something more than a free servant or a step above the livestock
I know how I would react; shun the impossible task. I would not have the courage to do what God asked of me. I would lack the faith.
She was an unschooled peasant girl of seventeen who never stepped foot out of her home village of Domremy, and filled her days by tending sheep. But when the call came she did not doubt her worth in God’s eyes. She did not doubt God’s power to accomplish His task, even if His chosen vessel appeared in the view of the world as the most unlikely candidate for the job.
She believed that with God all things were possible. Her willingness to listen to God and follow in faith inspired me with a desire to improve my own ability to do this.
The inspiration of Joan’s story didn’t stop there.
As I read the book, often a question arose in my mind. Why did God care so much about France that He had to send this young girl to save it from the clutches of the English? Throughout time hundreds of countries had been taken over by their neighbors. Why was this conflict any different?
And then the answer came. It slipped into my thoughts, starting as a quiet whispering, then spreading through my entire body with an “ah-ha” realization of truth. France needed to remain free so they could help America to be free. And America needed to be free so that God could re-establish the truth of His gospel once again on the earth.
What I gained from Joan’s story moved me such that I shelved the idea of the book I was writing and started on a new one. I needed to tell Joan’s story in a way that would reach young readers. That is the impetus for my current work in progress, Literary Loom. This manuscript has pulled me further into Joan’s life, as well as other great figures in history, and enlightened me as to God’s hand in history.
Thank you, Joan, for your story.