Part 1 of an interview with Lori Benton,
Author of Many Sparrows
Understanding why some things happen the way they do is impossible, but as Christians, we must remember God is in control and His timing is perfect. His purposes are deeper and broader than we can imagine. These are lessons Clare Inglesby must learn in award-winning author Lori Benton’s latest historical novel, Many Sparrows (WaterBrook).
Set in 1774 and based on historical facts, Many Sparrows depicts the harrowing account of a young mother who will stop at nothing to find and reclaim her son after he is taken by a native tribe.
Q: Without giving away too much of the story, can you share where the title Many Sparrows comes from?
The title has several meanings. It’s taken from the verses in Matthew 10 quoted in the front matter of the book. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And not one of them shall fall on the ground without your Father. . . . Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. The title Many Sparrows speaks to the theme of God’s vigilance in our lives and His constant care for us, as well as the fact we are linked to one another. There are many sparrows in His sight, not just one, and He’s concerned for them all.
It’s also the name given to an important character in the story.
Q: What do you hope readers learn about God’s timing and His plans for us while reading Many Sparrows?
What I love about how God uses a story like Many Sparrows is He’s going to speak to readers in individual ways about things I could never plan or predict. Somehow He does that work in spite of the limitations of both me and my books. I’m so glad He does. He’s a big God, so much bigger than my puny understanding can grasp. His plans, His timing, His purpose for us all are broader, deeper and higher than we can imagine. How easy it is to fail to see beyond the end of our noses, to be so wrapped up in our own circumstances that we lose sight of how connected we are. None of us lives or dies unto ourselves. All our choices have consequences in the lives of those we’re linked to, and each of us is just as important to our Father in Heaven as the next. As we make choices we need to bear in mind how they will affect others. Will they build them up or stumble and tear them down? Can we trust God in those situations where the choice to do good for another’s benefit requires a sacrifice we aren’t sure we can make? Is He truly a good Father? Are we safe in His hands?
Those thoughts were stirring in my heart as I wrote Many Sparrows, so I hope such themes resonate with readers and provoke conversation between them and the Lord.
Q: Why is it difficult to surrender situations to God and rely on Him to resolve the circumstances?
We want to be the one in control. Surrender isn’t a comfortable state. What if He brings us through pain? What if we suffer loss? Even knowing and believing God is good, He desires to give us good gifts and all He allows into our lives will ultimately work for our good, it’s still not fun, comfortable or easy to face the possibility of pain or disappointment. Have you ever rushed ahead of God and tried to fix a situation and simply made matters worse? I have. Having done that a time or two (or three!), I prefer to let whatever loss, disappointment or pain He allows me to experience be what draws me nearer to Him. I am weak; He is strong. I am flawed; He is pure. I see through a glass darkly; He sees and knows everything about me that concerns me, my past, my present and my future. His word tells me He will complete the work He has begun in me (Philippians 1:6).
Q: One of the more spiritual aspects of the story is the idea of repaying evil for evil. How can we set our minds on overcoming evil with good?
My best answer to how we can set our minds to do anything God’s way, rather than our own, is by daily washing those minds in the water of His word.
As for setting our minds on overcoming evil with good, let’s remember God Himself did that for us. We have all sinned and fallen short of the mark a holy God set in His law, but instead of His wrath for our failure, we get grace. Instead of condemnation, we get forgiveness. Jesus took that wrath and condemnation for us. He overcame evil—our sin and failure—by paying for it on the cross. The ultimate good for evil repayment! Remembering the choice He made for us lends us the perspective and strength we need to show a similar grace to each other.
Q: What can we learn from the life-altering consequences of the characters in Many Sparrows?
Father God knows best. His ways lead to wholeness, healing and joy. If we leave Him free to work out His plan for us and cease the fretting that only leads to fruitless meddling, things will go easier for us. We won’t walk through this life on a path of rose petals, but whatever situations He allows into our lives will work together for good, to deepen our faith, dependency on Him and intimacy of fellowship. We should keep our focus on what is eternal rather than on what will soon pass away. Oh, that I would keep such a focus!
Q: Can you give a little tease about your next work in progress?
Tentatively titled The King’s Mercy, the story is set in an earlier time period than any I’ve written before: the first half of the 18th century. I’m returning to Colonial North Carolina as a setting, though the story begins in Scotland. I don’t have a publication date yet, but I’m guessing sometime in late 2018.