The Premise

•November 10, 2009 • 6 Comments

Everyone has their big deal. Mine is finding God in secular media. I never thought much of fiction books until I read Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series about vampires, werewolves, and eternal love.

It left such a mark on me, I decided to write about it here. I understand that not everyone will share my sentiments, and that’s ok. My hope is that others will learn as much as I have and end up closer to God than before.

These devotionals do contain SPOILERS for those who have not read the series. That being said, my observations and quotations, though covering the series, should not be considered a substitute for reading the series yourself. On the contrary, having discussed the books with several spiritually-minded friends, each found their own insights, and places in which they felt the Lord speaking to them personally. Additionally, many parts will likely make no sense to someone who hasn’t read at least part of the series.

I highly recommend these books, and that they be read with an open heart and mind. Had I denied myself the opportunity, I’m sure God could have still taught me the things I learned from Twilight, but I do believe it would have taken me longer to understand them.

I am so grateful that Stephenie Meyer wrote these books. I hope you as a reader will find inspiration in them as well.

Of course, my posts (my writing) are (c) 2009 – Sarah Baker. All excerpts are (c) and owned by Stephenie Meyer/ Hachette/ Little, Brown books, as the case may be.

Eclipse Devotion #5: The First Church of La Push: Thoughts on Cultic Christianity

•June 27, 2010 • 1 Comment

I barreled down the wet highway, turning the windshield wipers on high and ignoring the groan of the ancient engine. Fifty-five was the most I could coax out of my truck, and I prayed it would be enough.

I had no clue where the boundary line was, but I began to feel safer as I passed the first houses outside La Push. This must be beyond where Alice was allowed to follow….

Before I could cut the engine, Jacob was standing in the door, his face blank with shock….

“Bella?”

“Hey, Jake!”

“Bella!” he yelled back, and the smile I’d been waiting for stretched across his face like the sun breaking free of the clouds…..”I can’t believe it!”…”Wow! It’s good to see you here!”

…”Welcome back, Bella,” he said, grinning. And the way he said the words made it sound like welcome home.
Eclipse
, Chapter 4

Vampires and werewolves can never seem to get along.  It keeps getting worse as the fight for Bella’s heart, soul, and human life takes over even the prejudices between the supernatural species.

Throughout the middle of Eclipse Bella begins to sneak away to see Jacob at La Push; somewhere Edward’s protective arms and Alice’s prophetic visions cannot follow.

Though Bella believes she’s simply going to see her best friend, and her adoptive Quileute family, something greater is happening.

Earlier, we touched on the juxtapositioning of Edward and Jacob as being the choice we all must make between the Spirit and the Flesh.

What I want to put emphasis on here is the natural outflow of that same choice. The pull of an earthly family is making her steal time from her eternal family.

Have you ever been put in the position of choosing between your Lord and your Church? I have.

It can start small, much in the same way Bella’s conflict did: a hurt, a question, a doubt of her eternal lover’s feelings.
We need each other, our friends, to surround us in love to care and to pray with. This is a beautiful part of living in community.

But as we move on in our walk with God in that community, sometimes a hairline fracture occurs between that Body and the Lord.  Prayers can become strained, more emphasis placed on works of the flesh. Greater emphasis is placed upon the traditions of man than the commandments of God.

Suddenly we find ourselves owned by a cult than belonging to a  once free-flowing spiritual family.

I say this because, as previously outlined, Jacob started out as Bella’s Jesus with skin on when Edward was gone. She fell into a community in La Push that she could be herself with; they shared a supernatural bond.

However, when her eternal lover returned, and her time of wilderness had ended, Jacob felt pushed aside. Afterall, Bella was his. He began to stand between her  and eternity; afterall…this is one thing the Wolf Pack doesn’t have. They do not have the gift of eternal life.

Make no mistake, any Church who makes you choose between following your Lord and keeping your Membership is no home for you. Like Jacob, they have a sense of ownership over those entrusted in their care and this is both dangerous and wrong.

Learn from Bella’s mistake and keep your first love your top priority, if we do, we can press on into eternal life in Christ, our eternal lover.

2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love….7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God (Revelation 2:2-4,7).

Eclipse Devotion #4: The Trip to Jacksonville

•June 17, 2010 • 1 Comment

“Renee is so much more… perceptive than Charlie in some ways. It was making me jumpy.”

Edward laughed. “Your mother has a very interesting mind. Almost childlike, but very insightful. She sees things differently than other people.”

Insightful. It was a good description of my mother—when she was paying attention. Most of the time Renee was so bewildered by her own life that she didn’t notice much else. Butt his weekend she’d been paying plenty of attention to me.

This morning we’d gone for a walk along the beach.

In my head, I went over the conversation again…

“Bella?” my mother asked, looking out past the sand to the lightly crashing waves as she spoke.

“What is it, Mom?”

She sighed, not meeting my gaze. “I’m worried…”

“What’s wrong?” I asked, anxious at once. “What can I do?”

“It’s not me.” She shook her head. “I’m worried about you…and Edward.”

Renee finally looked at me when she said his name, her face apologetic.

“Oh,” I mumbled, fixing my eyes on a pair of joggers as they passed us, drenched with sweat.

“You two are more serious than I’d been thinking,” she went on.

“There’s something…strange about the way you two are together,” she murmured, her forehead creasing over her troubled eyes. “The way he watches you—it’s so…protective. Like he’s about to throw himself in front of a bullet to save you or something.”

I laughed, though I was still not able to meet her gaze. “That’s a bad thing?”

“No.” She frowned as she struggled for words. “It’s just different. He’s very intense about you…and very careful. I feel like I don’t really understand your relationship. Like there’s some secret I’m missing…”
Eclipse Chapter 3, page 68.

When my mother found Jesus, not many people understood her. My father, in particular, struggled with my mom’s newfound faith. Unless you’ve been in love with a spiritual being, you can’t understand what it’s like.

Those who love God love Him more than anything and anyone, but not in competition with mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, or children. It’s a different kind of love. It’s all-consuming, but not all-blinding. It’s first, but it makes you put others before yourself. Love for God is entirely paradoxical.

When I re-read this passage, it reminded me of this truth; when you are His and He is yours, people will take note, but will not always understand it. Some will feel frightened, worried, or just confused. But God’s love bears the fruit of the spirit, and those you love with those gifts will feel the warmth of His love and be drawn to it, even if they don’t fully grasp it.

Eclipse Devotion #3: Team Jacob or Team Edward- Flesh or Spirit

•May 30, 2010 • 4 Comments

As established, Bella’s on-track for making several important, life-altering (and life-ending) decisions in Eclipse. I’m going to begin with the major choice between Edward and Jacob.

I run the risk of alienating the parties (or partisans, lol) involved here, and I’m going to try not to do that. However, viewing the book series spiritually, I have to look at it allegorically as well as practically. That can be a hard line to walk when you’re ultimately choosing between good and good-er. 🙂 I hope readers will understand that. Now, onward!

Bella loves both men deeply and unconditionally, which is an excellent basis for relationship. However, when we venture into book three, we are able to see a greater depth of both relationships. We’re now past the “honeymoon” phase of friendship and new love, so everyone begins to get a little more honest. Here’s what we begin to see:

Bella: As Stephenie Meyer puts it, she’s matured to the point that she’s able to finally count the cost to her decisions. She’s really having to make a choice, and that means sacrificing something.
Jacob: He’s in love with Bella, and as he says relatively early in Eclipse, he knows Bella is in love with him (if she were only honest with herself).  He’s facing losing her: his best friend and his love, to a man/being he fears, loathes, and doesn’t understand. Though Jacob is noble at heart, we watch his decisions begin to show a greater dimension of both prejudice and manipulation as the story develops: both of these actions are based upon fear.
Edward: Being profoundly altered by love in Twilight, and facing the loss of it head-on in New Moon, Edward eventually begins to relinquish some of his own prejudice (and pride) in Eclipse, freeing Bella to choose for herself….even if it ultimately means losing her.  Actions such as these are based upon love alone.

All of that to say that Jacob and Edward symbolize the bride of Christ’s coming choice. The choice of flesh or spirit. We all need each other, humans, to grow, learn, change, and to love. But there comes a time when that can stand in our path, blocking our way to Christ.

In New Moon, Jacob was a Godsend. Jesus with skin on. In Eclipse, he becomes a soul-tie, a roadblock to overcome on the road to eternal life. Jacob Black is earth-bound, biologically unable to make a transition into a truly eternal being: one day, he will die (even if it is more slowly than everyone else).

Have you ever had a great friend? Someone with whom you could share everything? You prayed together, you sat together in church, you kept each other’s secrets and shared your dreams…. Then one day, for whatever reason, one of you stops growing in the spirit. Your fellowship suffers. The other is unable to share in your joy. With every step toward Christ, they feel the separation grow between they and you.

This is exactly where Jacob stands. Unable to follow, losing his friend and his girl, losing control. And thus, he begins to act out of his fear of loss. But fear and love cannot co-exist. This is when Edward proves his mettle: his love passes the fear test.

Beware the one who would make you choose between intimacy with Christ and their friendship. They have already made their choice, and it is flesh.

What will yours be, flesh or spirit?

Devotion Soundtrack:
Lifehouse – Only One. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1O0UGUGcYVI

Eclipse Devotion #2: Bella’s Future – Voices, Choices, and Tuggings

•March 3, 2010 • 1 Comment

What about Jacob? What was I going to do about him? My former best friend who was now…what? My enemy? I cringed.

It was a dilemma I was already struggling with. My friends. People who, for their own safety,  I would never be able to see again after graduation.

So what was the best course of action? Spend time with them while I could? Or start the separation now to make it more gradual? I quailed at the idea of the second option.

“…particularly Jacob,” Charlie added….

A greater dilemma than the first. It took me a moment to find the right words. “Jacob might be…difficult.”

“A conflict about the friendship thing, I mean. Friendship doesn’t always seem to be enough for Jake.”

…”Congratulations,” he said…. “Your first [college] acceptance.”

“No werewolves.”

“I’m not going along with that [Edward]. I have to see Jacob.”

“Then I’ll have to stop you.”

“We’ll see about that,” I bluffed…..
Eclipse – Chapter 1

When we start the first chapter of Eclipse, the theme of choices is immediately clear. Bella has many different voices advising her, a lot of decisions to make, and a lot of things tugging at her. What will she do with her life? Will she choose to remain human? Will she choose to wait and go to college? Will she try to keep her friends in her life? Will she seek out Jacob? Will she marry Edward?

Naturally speaking, this is indicative of Bella’s age:  she’s 18. She’d be making several of these decisions just by where she is in life. She’s just starting out, and many of these choices are reflective of her priorities, which are still taking shape: friends, family, love, school, career. What’s the most important, and which comes first?

But if you look at these themes spiritually, there’s a lot more going on:
She’s just now beginning to count the cost of her early decision to become immortal and choose Edward forever.

In choosing him, she’ll have to give up everything else. And until now, she’s not realized how hard and painful that actually will be.

In choosing Jacob, she’ll enjoy every human experience and not have to give up a single thing—except Edward and his family.

Bella can’t have both, and so she must choose.

In a nutshell, it’s a contrast between choosing what is known, safe, and comfortable to our flesh, or choosing what our spirit wants and needs to live forever.

34“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
” ‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law –
36a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’[e]

37“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 10:34-38).

It also reminds me of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and said “Jesus, I’ll follow you anywhere…What do you want me to do?” Jesus—as usual—knew exactly what to ask of him: “Sell all you have and come follow me.” The passage says that the man went away “discouraged.” He couldn’t make that choice. He couldn’t give it up.

Oh, but if he only comprehended what he would have gained!

And so often, God returns to us more than we give, even in tangible riches. Even more, He just wants to know that He’s number one in our lives. He offers us all things, and so He first requires the same of us. “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

But to choose, we must first know fully what it is we are choosing. And through much difficulty, that is what Bella will learn in Eclipse.

What choice will she make? What choice will you make? Will we chase Jacob, or say “yes” to Edward?

Eclipse Devotion #1: Real Love & The Power of Choice by Lori Lundquist

•February 25, 2010 • 1 Comment

“You will have a choice… You aren’t going through with this because a sword is hanging over your head. We will take care of the problems, and I will take care of you,” he vowed. “When you’re through it, and there is nothing forcing your hand, then you can decide to join me, if you still want to. But not because you’re afraid. You won’t be forced into this.” (Eclipse, ch. 12, pg. 271)

Eclipse is all about choices. The love triangle sets up in New Moon, and we are aware that Bella must decide. Although the assumption is that she’ll choose Edward hands down, it ends up being tougher than that for her. She doesn’t want to let go of her friendship with Jacob. The situation is compounded when Jacob declares his love for Bella and forces her to consider him as more than a friend.

Through all of the back and forth, fights, contests, and stresses, one thing remains in tact – Bella’s power of choice – free will.

She doesn’t realize she has this power, believing that Edward is/was/always will be her one and only – that she never really had a choice (pg.600). But her actions prove otherwise.

Jacob asks her to choose him (pg.327), and then goes about forcing her hand in as many ways as he could imagine, praying for his own sake she would give in to his persuasions.

Edward, though, wields the greatest power because he grants Bella the power of choice.

Yes, he prevents her from seeing Jacob on several occasions, but I believe that his motivation stemmed from true belief that she was in danger in Jacob’s presence. Once that issue resolves, he steps back and lets her choose every course of action even though many of her decisions cause him great pain. In so giving Bella the gift of free will, he risks losing her. Even though he knows the depth of his love, his ability to protect her, the possibility and implications of Jacob imprinting on someone else in the future… all the risks to Bella… he still leaves the choice to her.

Gentlemen are like that.

He knew that in any love relationship, the proof is in the choice.

But I also think Edward leaves the choice to her because being with him requires complete commitment. Even though she wants to be like him, only Edward knows what she has to endure to make that happen – excruciating pain, loss of family and friends, complete lifestyle revolution. He had to make sure she knew exactly what she thought she was saying ‘yes’ to.

When Jesus proposes to us, similar factors exist.

He has been clear – He loves us with an everlasting love, more perfectly than any other love that could ever vie for our attentions. He knows the risks of losing us, both to Himself and to us. He has endured the pain of our rejection time after time.

Yet, he still leaves the answer up to us.

We get to choose.

Yes, there are consequences for rejecting him, and benefits for accepting.

But Jesus is the ultimate gentleman. He never forces our hand.

He knows that the proof of love lies in choice. If we don’t choose Him, the love isn’t real.

But He also knows what accepting Him means for us, and He wants us to understand completely before we pledge our commitment. In becoming like Him, we will experience pain as our flesh is transformed and we carry the cross He assigns (incredible symbolism in BD on that). We will loose loved-ones to the world as we follow closely after Him. We will have to transform our lifestyle to one that goes against the grain of cultural norms.

The love must be informed and real because accepting Him out of fear, force, guilt or any other motivation won’t cut it in the long run. Although He already took care of the really tough stuff (you know, suffering and dying for our sins), we still have a road to travel. And that road might be difficult. In many cases, really difficult.

But the reward is so worth it. (You’ll have to wait for Breaking Dawn for those analogies!)

In Eclipse, we find Bella in the middle of her decision-making adventure. Her future depends on the result of those decisions just as our future depends on the choice we make when Jesus asks, “Will you marry me?”

Lori Lundquist is the author of the blog Dry Ground , a lover of books movies, music, and “stories in every form.” She also the prolific writer of several Christian fiction pieces. You should totally follow her. 🙂

Entering Eclipse – An Overview

•February 24, 2010 • 2 Comments


Eclipse is going to be an interesting book to delve into. Like New Moon, there’s a good deal of internal conflict, but it actually comes to bear in external conflict much more frequently, adding complexity. It’s more literal and deliberate in its storytelling. However, Eclipse also deals with choices and embracing the truth, which speaks to all of us.

Noone can escape the necessity of making choices, and noone can escape the truth; not for long.  Even when the truth is difficult for us to accept, as it is for Bella in Eclipse, it remains truth: pure and objective. Reality.

How does this fit with the backdrop I’ve laid with Twilight and New Moon ? Glad you asked. 😉

As we examine Twilight, we see a clear picture of where we are when we meet Christ. We’ve never met anyone like Him. He’s everything we aren’t, and everything we want to be. He’s powerful, wise, beautiful, perfect, graceful, everlasting, never-changing, and I could go on…But we are what we are: weak, needy, imperfect, clumsy, awkward, fearful, vulnerable, unsure, and corruptible….human. And He loves us just as we are, though we can’t begin to understand why. Overcome by the generosity of His extravagant love and acceptance, we “tag along” beside Him, always grateful to be with Him, but secretly waiting for the other shoe to drop. Anticipating the day when He either realizes we’re not worth His time, or we die and go to be with Him forever. 🙂

In New Moon, we’ve fallen even more deeply in love with our Lord. Though we still don’t get why he hangs around us (He must be crazy), we’re just ecstatic to be with Him every day. But then something changes, and He suddenly disappears, withdraws, seemingly abandons us. We endure the desolation of a spiritual and emotional desert, as we only now begin to realize the depths of our reliance on Him. We are tempted to turn aside to human comforts, our medicine, our Jacob Black, and just try to move on…but finally He comes back. We exit our wilderness. And it was as if He’d never been silent, never left us. Because in truth He never had. He’s become part of us, and so will always be linked. We realize that He really and truly adores us, and He cannot live without us, just as we cannot live without Him.

And in Eclipse, we must face the consequences of our decision to become like Christ. We get the final bill of the total cost of following God: we must forsake everything, father and mother, sister and brother. If not, we are not worthy of Him. Even though we thought we understood the cost, we begin to feel the pain as our flesh begins to die. We have to give up everything, as we begin to transform—internally—into the image of Christ. The spiritual battle escalates dramatically as we confront the enemy within us and around us. Will we choose to hold onto our current life, or will we hold fast to eternity? The book is a journey into truth, making hard choices, and choosing to walk in truth. I think the Scripture passage for this book would be Proverbs 4:17-19:

17Their food and drink are violence and cruelty. 18The lifestyle of good people is like sunlight at dawn that keeps getting brighter until broad daylight. 19The lifestyle of the wicked is like total darkness, and they will never know what makes them stumble.

Who will we choose to be? What will Bella choose? Will we live in the light? Or will we stumble in darkness? Welcome to Eclipse! 🙂

Devotional #16: The Truth – Oh How He Loves Us

•February 18, 2010 • 1 Comment

I had the sense that I’d been asleep for a very long time—my body was stiff, like I hadn’t moved once through all that time, either….My mind was dazed and slow; strange colorful dreams—dreams and nightmares—swirled dizzily around the inside of my head….And there were plenty of monsters, red-eyed fiends that were all the more ghastly for their genteel civility. But the strongest, clearest part of the dream was not the horror. It was the angel that was most clear.

I thought of the night in Port Angeles when I’d had my first delusion. I’d come up with two options. Insanity or wish fulfillment. I’d seen no third option. But what if…

[I’d had an epiphany.]

What if you sincerely thought something was true, but you were dead wrong? What if you were so stubbornly sure that you were right, that you wouldn’t even consider the truth? Would the truth be silenced, or would it try to break through?
Option three: Edward loved me. The bond forged between us was not one that could be broken by absence, distance, or time. And no matter how much more special or beautiful or brilliant or perfect than me he might be, he was as irreversibly altered as I was. As I would always belong to him, so would he always be mine….

“Oh!”

“Bella?”

“Your epiphany?” he asked, his voice uneven and strained.

“You love me,” I marveled. The sense of conviction and rightness washed through me again.

“Truly, I do.”
New Moon – Chapter 23, 24

I’m not sure how many of you have heard the very-popular song “Oh How He Loves us,” sung by Kim Walker, but it’s truly fantastic, and it’s hard not to see the parallels between this song and the above passage from New Moon.

How much of God’s effort has been to simply communicate His love to the earth? Everything He does is to simply bring us closer. Even His loathing of sin—I challenge—is most rooted in it’s devastating ability to separate us from Him. And that, is sin’s greatest offense to the heart of God. Such is His jealousy for us.

If we could just get this. Be convinced. I’m only beginning to feel the droplets, when God really wants to send a monsoon.

In everything that has happened, this moment is the true climax of the book. Twilight was the beginning, the love at first meeting between mortal and divine….New Moon tests that love and our faith in it. After all, a faith untested is a faith unfounded. Just as Bella and Edward’s love could not mature without this terrible desert time, so our love relationship with Christ cannot mature without a time of heavenly silence and withdrawal.

As we continue onward, we must face even greater tests,challenges, and choices: we must choose between our earthly loves and our beloved,  finally face our enemy, and decide to forsake everything if we are keep going. While the book references Eclipse as Edward’s moon seizing the place of Jacob’s sun, our eclipse is something else: it is the blazing light of the Son as it takes full possession of everything we were, as it makes us what we will be.

Are you ready to face the Eclipse ? 🙂