Dave Meigs 

David Meigs is a novelist with a background in youth outreach, specializing in ministry to at-risk youth and their families. Though his writing is enjoyed by all ages, his novels provide a unique, life-changing quality, critical for the youth of today. David and his family lives in Seabeck, Washington, where he serves his church as youth pastor.

Assuring the Life-Changing Success of What We Write

As I write this, I have just returned from an exciting youth event called Big Splash. The thrill of the experience is still surging through my heart and spirit, though my fifty-something-year-old youth-pastor body is worn to a nubbins. It was exhausting work, but seeing the lives of teens transformed makes it worth it—every barking muscle and joint.

Moreover, this event has a special place in my heart. Twenty years ago I had the privilege of helping to birth the first Big Splash and for the next ten years to assist in shaping it into one of the Northwest’s largest annual youth events. In these last nine years since I left my position at West Puget Sound Youth for Christ (WPS-YFC), I’ve watched, as would a proud uncle, God continue to use Big Splash to change the lives of tens of thousands of youth.

But Big Splash did not begin as the mega-event it is today. The first Big Splash was birthed in the heart of Chris Clark (then executive director of WPS-YFC) and was never intended to be more than a one-time event. Our desire was simply to serve the smaller churches by giving them the opportunity to become part of something larger—something highly exciting, but also with a powerful, evangelistic message. God made it into something more.

So what has the Big Splash got to do with life-transforming fiction? Nothing and everything.

I would argue that many similarities exist between the construction of successful, inspirational fiction and the production of a high-quality ministry event like the Big Splash. Both are birthed inside our imaginations and take form within our creative processes. Next, many of us start down an arduous path of methodical planning and layout the story one brick upon another, while others of us just dive right in by the seat of our pants and go wherever the story takes us. Regardless of which stylistic camp we find ourselves in, no one can deny the hard work that follows.

But our hard work alone cannot transform a single life. Only God can do that. Oh sure, we can manipulate feelings, create mind-blowing illustrations that illuminate the murkiest regions of the human heart, but we cannot ignite the spark of life in any heart where it did not beat before. Only God can do that. Herein lies the marriage between the Creator and us, His vessels. It was Jesus himself who taught us that we can do nothing of eternal value apart from Him.

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (NIV)

If you take away the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit from the Big Splash, all you have is a day at the amusement park, followed by a nice concert. The same is true of inspirational fiction. Without the influence of the Lord, the best we can hope for is an entertaining book. Not that entertaining is a bad thing. In fact, it is essential. When it comes to entertainment in a book (or youth event), more is always better.

To build the entertainment factor in our books, we look to the craft; but for that life-giving power, we must look to the Lord. But how does that work? So how do we as writers tap into that life-giving power? The same way a minister does, or for that matter, a bricklayer, truck driver, or school teacher. You get my point. The same lesson applies to us all. That life-giving quality comes from a relationship with Jesus and not from us. Again, only Jesus gives life.

The branch draws life from the vine. Jesus tells us to “remain” in Him, or “abide” for you KJV fans. Regardless of word choice, the meaning is clear. We are dependent on Him for that life-giving power in our own lives, and even more so if we hope to see the fruit of it reproduced through us into the lives of others. Writer, truck driver, or minister: the rules remain the same.

I am not going to turn this into a devotional piece, highlighting seven steps to a deeper walk with Jesus. I’m sure every one of you is equally as capable as I am to find ways of nurturing your relationship with the Lord. Nor am I saying that we need to be super-spiritual giants. There is even hope for knuckleheads like me. The important thing is that we keep connected to the source. Only Jesus gives life.

It has been a rare privilege to watch as thousands of teens have given their lives to Jesus at Big Splash. It also warms my heart to know that those who now are responsible for running the event enjoyed experiencing Big Splash as teens themselves. Isn’t that just like the Lord? Whether we are building a life-changing youth event, or writing life-transforming fiction, the truth remains the same. If we strive for excellence in what we do, and if in all things we put God first, we can expect good things to follow.

Until our paths cross next, remember it’s only Jesus who gives life.