December has finally arrived,
and it is almost time to put 2010 to bed so we can make way for a
brand-new year. I don’t know about you, but each year seems to keep
getting shorter than the year before. I guess that is just one of the
joys of getting longer in the tooth. Soon it will be Christmas—a
special time in the lives of all believers. But for my family, this
Christmas carries an extra blessing. It will be our first Christmas in
our new house.
It was only a few days before
Christmas two years ago that our autistic son, Johnny (now eighteen),
burned down our house. He had been playing with matches—something I am
sure he will never do again. Nowadays he will not tolerate a flame of
any kind—not even a candle. Before the house fire, he didn’t understand
the danger of fire. Unfortunately for Johnny, he has to learn about
danger the hard way, and he has the broken bones and scars to prove it,
not to mention the badly worn nerves of his mom and dad. Taking care of
Johnny is a full-time job.
As you can imagine, all we have
been through over these past couple of years has caused us to take a
deeper stock of our lives. Many things that seemed so important in my
life before the fire suddenly became small and insignificant. “Things”
quickly began to pale in importance, and the people in my life regained
their proper center-focus in my heart and choices. We may have lost
everything we owned, but my whole family and even our pets made it out
with their lives. I have never felt more thankful to God in all my
life. Praise God!
Strangely though, our ordeal did
not leave us shaken. Instead of depression, our whole family grew in
excitement at seeing the miraculous provision of the Lord. I’m not
saying that things did not seem dark—because they did—only that this
situation was too big for us to handle on our own. God had to provide.
And we knew He would provide, just as He always had in the past. And He
did get us through it, again and again. In fact, we still have a ways
Our tragedy has also driven me
to take a fresh look at my career and ministry as a writer. It takes
hard work to sharpen storytelling skills. It does not matter how
wonderful a story might be, if it is not well written, it will never
make it onto the bookstore shelves. By all means, I support learning
all you can about the craft. But beyond the writing skills within an
inspirational novelist’s toolbox is an intangible spiritual quality—an
anointing from God.
Never have I felt a greater need
to pack the power of God into what I write as I do now. After all, it’s
all about changing the lives of our readers. A lot of advice is out
there on how to sharpen your craft as a writer, but precious little on
how to increase the anointing on our lives. Fortunately for us,
attaining this special God anointing does not require us to first
achieve some kind of special super-spiritual status. There is hope for
even total heathens like me. It can be summed up in this one truth:
Only Jesus gives life.
Go ahead. Make a list of the top
five or ten inspirational authors of all time. Impressive, isn’t it?
Great writers all, and without doubt some really great people too, but
not one of them can give life. Only Jesus gives life. Don’t believe me?
Let’s see what Jesus has to say on the subject. “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” (John 15:5 NIV).
It comes down to maintaining our
relationship with Jesus. On our own, we are capable of writing highly
entertaining, and morally compelling fiction. However, only Jesus can
breathe life into where none existed before. For that life-giving
quality to exist, it requires that our lives are in continual
fellowship with Jesus. As we do what Jesus requires of us—abiding in
Him—only then can we bear eternal fruit, the kind that produces life.
I am sure that growing in your
personal walk with God is your highest desire in life. But isn’t it sad
how the often frenzied demands of our daily strain to make ends meet
can leave us empty and dry inside? It’s like life has a gravity all its
own that drags us ever downward. We need to feed on God’s manna from
heaven today, more than ever before. We need a continual diet of God’s
Word, prayer, worship, and even fellowship with other believers.
See you all next year.
May 2011 become the best year of
your life. And above all, may it be a year of discovering even more of
Jesus, the Giver of life, in all you write and do for Him.
Merry Christmas to all of you!