Thirteen year old Brandiline Faythe bubbles a zest for life, and–according to her older sister–is the only person capable of making drooling and snoring adorable. She’s a rare type of person in both fiction and real real life–irrepressible, compassionate, and seemingly fearless even when she’s afraid.
“Would you like me to tell you a story?” Brand cocked her head at him.
He nodded. Another minute and his sense of duty might’ve banished his hesitation.
“There once was a boy named Daniel. He and his three friends were captured by an evil king and taken far from their home.”
Despite being the youngest lead character, Brandi might be the mentor character of this story. Though Renna, her older sister, makes the decision to tend to Leith’s injuries, it’s Brandi who refuses to hide their faith from him.
Her actions are far from practical. Every prayer made in front of the Blade, every Bible story told is an illegal action that Leith is duty bound to report to the king. Brandi isn’t ignorant of this fact. She’s old enough to remember her parents’ deaths and old enough to understand the king needs little provocation to order her death, yet something causes her to push that reality away and plow (or bounce) forward.
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? –Romans 10:14
Leith is a young man who has had little opportunity to hear any sort of good news, much less the Good News of the gospel. While the older members of her family worry about the harm Leith might bring to them and fear giving him too much information to use against them, Brandi sees a soul in need of a gospel and a friend in the making. To assume friendship with a trained killer–one who assisted in killing members of her own family– is a naive perspective, but it keeps Brandi’s light burning openly while her more logical sister struggles to avoid hiding her light completely.
Brandi smirked as if she didn’t care he knew enough to get her killed. “And you know the first few chapters of Daniel. We’re up to Daniel 5. Would you read it tonight, Uncle Abel?”
Lessons from Brandi
Love is Genuine. This is what made Brandi’s love stand out to me. When the Bible says, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” I usually think of the obedient good-deeds Renna portrayed. She took in the enemy and tended his wounds, but she did it with one eye open and battled the wish that her care wouldn’t be effective.
I don’t know about you, but if someone has wronged me I find it much easier to be civil than to bubble compassion. Sometimes our human nature can only follow God’s directions in obedience–like Renna–while praying for Him to help us trust Him more fully. However, there is no denying that there is something beautiful about pure, genuine love, and when that sort of love is shown to someone like Leith–an enemy–it’s something only God could orchestrate.
For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then. —Corrie Ten Boom on Forgiveness
Love is Bold. Boldness is defined as not being hesitant or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger. The wisdom of the world says to watch out for #1, otherwise known as self. Love isn’t all about looking out for yourself, though.
Around five years ago I was standing in the hallway of the nursing home my grandmother lived in when one of the ladies asked to pet my dog. I knew the lady pretty well. She had big glasses, a big voice, and always wanted to exchange greetings. On this particular day, she gave my Sheltie her usual brief pat then looked me in the eye and said, “Leah, do you love me?” The question took me totally by surprise. I hesitated, my brain racing. Did I love her? I didn’t mind saying hello and bringing my dog over for a brief visit, but did love require more than that. I finally managed an awkward, “Sure I do.”
That incident replayed in my mind for weeks. I wished I had responded instantly and confidently. This was a lonely woman who had never given me a reason to dislike her. I enjoyed older folks and besides, I was a Christian called to love those around me. After that encounter, I prayed that God would give me a love for her and a ready response if anyone asked me the same question in the future. “Yes, I love you. And so does God!”
Brandi reminded me of that incident because she defaults to bold love. I want to me more like that!
Love … Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. –1 Corinthians 13:7
Love is Risky. Think of the love demonstrated in the Bible. Jesus didn’t come to earth thinking that obeying God might lead to His death. He knew it would. That was the whole point. And he did it willingly, pouring himself out in service to the very people who would shout for his death.
C.S. Lewis wrote in The Four Loves, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
There are never any guarantees that your heart won’t get broken. There’s no guarantee that people you look up to and trust won’t make mistakes or turn out to be far different than you thought they were. And I guess that’s the crux of it all. Love isn’t born out of a confidence in humanity, it’s born out of a trust in the goodness of God and the superiority of His ways.
Brandi met her gaze with her blue, trusting eyes. “I’m not afraid.”
“You should be.” Renna hung her head.
Her sister’s voice dropped into a whisper. “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Love is genuine, bold, and risky? What other qualities does Christian love have?