“My own father didn’t want me. What makes you think God would be any different?”
Though only eighteen, Leith has seen more of the world’s darkness than most grandfathers. When pinpricks of light begin to seep into his world, he reacts the only way he knows how–disbelief.
Leith Torren is a Blade, an assassin trained by one of the most cruel kings in Acktar’s history. Each victorious, death-filled mission he accomplishes for the king wins him a mark of success, emblazoned on his right arm as a scar. It’s an oppressive life, but Leith barely notices. For him, it’s enough to have people he belongs to and a leader whose approval he can win.
Leith Comes to Stetterly
A princess of Acktar once called Stetterly home. That was before Leith and his fellow Blades carried out the current king’s plan and murdered her and her husband. Now the large building shelters Renna and Brandi, orphaned daughters of the slain. The girls are content to live in anonymity, avoiding the paranoid eye of the king who would kill at the first threat of an heir, but God has plans to bring them face to face with the Blades of Acktar again.
The reckless behavior of a younger Blade send Leith hurtling into a Blizzard, wounded and alone. Providence–or fate in Leith’s mind–brings his horse to an inhabited home. There he finds compassion and healing from the hands of the girls he helped orphan.
A Good, Good Father
“Why try to save me?” By right, she should enjoy his pain, small payment for the years of pain he’d caused her. The lack of understanding itched at him. No one gave anything without expecting something in return. His father taught him that lesson years ago.
Renna and Brandi are Leith’s first taste of God’s love. A love he cannot understand and resists acknowledging. After all, if God is real, Leith knows without doubt that he cannot be accepted by Him.
As time progresses, Leith gradually comes to realize that God is nothing like his father–a cruel man whose good opinion lay lost in the bottom of his whiskey mug. God is a good father, unmarred by the sin that crumpled the positive influence of Leith’s human father.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. –James 1:17
Learning from Leith
I’ve been sitting on this post for weeks, trying to think of a way to tie together and express the inspiration and lessons wrapped up in Leith’s character and journey. Since I’m still trying to figure out how to do that, it must be the sort of thing you just have to read and experience yourself.
To me, Leith stood out from the typical “wounded-soul bad-guy redemption” story. Often characters with dark pasts get hung up on, “I can’t ask for forgiveness because I can’t be forgiven. God doesn’t want me.” Leith has moments of that thought process, but it didn’t characterize him. Instead, he struggled with trusting God because of the broken trusts in his past. That felt relatable to me. I haven’t been massively betrayed, and I have a great family, but I think everyone has experienced a broken trust.
- That person you looked up to who was hiding much less role-model worthy areas of their lives.
- A secret you entrusted to someone leaking out.
- A friend failing to follow through on something important to you.
People are flawed. That includes me. And you. Leith wrestles with trusting God because he views God through the lense of an unloving father. Eventually he realizes that he can’t compare God to his father. Once he turns the tables and compares his father to the Heavenly Father, he realizes that father’s shortcomings merely highlight the goodness of God.
Leith’s journey to this conclusion reminded me not to set people on pedestals. God is always the ultimate authority. People shouldn’t distract me from my focus on God–whether they are good people who distract me because I want to emulate them or people who have hurt me and distract me through bitterness. God should always be the focus. The measuring stick.
So, that’s some of what I learned from Leith in Dare. There are so many more elements to his story! If you read it for yourself, I would LOVE to hear what stood out to you.