I wasn’t raised in church. In
fact, my family never attended church
together, not even once. As a kid, the only times I ever heard God
mentioned at all was in my father’s angry expletives. I was sixteen
years old before I learned the reason Jesus died upon the cross two
thousand years ago. We were a family of heathens; and yet, despite my
not knowing the Lord Jesus, there were times in my childhood when I
sensed God reaching out to me.
One of those times was when I
was twelve years old. It was a
miracle. We lived only a few miles from where I live today, in the
midst of a vast wilderness filled with wildlife of every kind. I
remember the day so well. I told everyone that I was going exploring in
the forest, and then after putting my dog on a leash and throwing the
BB gun over my shoulder, I set off for an adventure.
I stayed on the old logging
roads until they dwindled to little more
than ancient footpaths long unused. I came to an old homestead. Trees
stood where the old cabin had been. A gnarled apple tree grew in what
had been the front yard. Next to it was a circle of rocks marking the
abandoned well. A couple of decaying boards were all that remained of
someone’s long ago attempt to board it over.
After filling my belly with
green apples, I started back down the
trail to see what was beyond. Never before had I ventured so far. On
and on I went, taking one fork in the trail after another. It was a
grand adventure. Then I noticed that there was not as much light as
there had been. It was starting to get dark. My dog, Frosty, and I did
an about-face and headed back up the trail we had just come down.
Soon I arrived at the first of
what had been several forks in the
trail I had turned down earlier. Neither way seemed right to me.
Everything looked so different in the waning light. I made a hopeful
choice and headed off down the trail. I walked as fast as I could,
trying to find a familiar landmark. Unfortunately, the farther I went,
the stranger the surroundings. Then I doubled back, trying one turnoff
in the trail after another, with no success.
I broke down and cried. I called
out to God, pleading for help. That
is when the miracle happened. Before I even finished my prayer, a fox
leapt out of the brush just beyond the reach of my dog, who was
tethered to my wrist by his leash.
Then the strangest thing I had
ever seen happened. Instead of
bolting back into the heavy brush from where it came, the fox started
off at a slow trot down the trail, keeping just out of reach of Frosty,
who strained at his leash to chase his quarry. I stumbled forward,
trying to keep my feet. No longer caring, I let the dog pull me along.
We followed the fox as it turned off one trail and down another, until
all of a sudden I found myself next to that long abandoned cabin. Then
as quickly as it appeared, the fox turned and disappeared back into the
I was saved. I knew it had been
an answer to my prayer, and yet I
had a difficult time believing what had just happened. We hadn’t only
seen a fox in the woods; we had been led to safety by one. It had
showed us the way at every turn in the trail, and even slowed so we
could keep up. Unfortunately, God chose not to extend the miracle to
cover my enraged parents after I finally walked in the door, now well
into the night.
You would think that I would
have found God after experiencing such
a miracle, but sadly, twelve turned into thirteen, bringing junior high
school, girls, and a thousand other distractions. It was not until a
few years later that I finally came to Christ. That was a miracle in
itself, but we will leave those details for another day.
As inspirational fiction
authors, we write to the lost. Okay, not
lost in the same way as when that fox led me back to safety all those
decades ago, but lost in other ways. If there is one thing I have
learned about people, even the strongest Christians, it is that we all
get lost. Life brings many twists and turns, and with it comes a long
parade of heartaches and tragedies that can sometimes leave even the
mightiest among us with crippled hearts, or in a crisis of faith.
In my years working with teens
and their families, I have witnessed
countless miracles as God answered desperate prayers, doing the
impossible. As a writer, I have had the privilege of receiving
testimonies of readers whose lives have been transformed after reading
my stories. If writing is also your ministry, I am sure you have heard
from your readers that their lives have also been changed.
As someone once said, God moves
in strange ways. Most of us get
locked into thinking that God will do things a certain way, but God
seems to delight in doing the unusual. Joshua fought the battle of
Jericho, but walls didn’t come tumbling down until after obeying God’s
demand to walk around the city for seven days and then blow horns at
it. Not your common war strategy. Joshua had his Jericho, and I had a
fox for a trail guide. I am sure you have your own tale to tell.
If we writers want to accurately
reflect God’s activity in the lives
of our characters, we should not be afraid to fire up our imaginations.
The best of the inspirational novels I read keep me guessing with
continual twists and turns. Unfortunately, in these same wonderful
books, God too often seems to answer prayer in a predictable manner. In
my humble opinion, we need not be afraid to step up our creativity to a
whole new level. After all, God moves in mysterious ways.
Until next we meet, may the Lord
bless your writing with highly
imaginative ways to demonstrate God’s working in the lives of the
characters in the life-transforming novels you write. Oh, and if a fox
jumps out in front of you as you wander down life’s path, don’t shoot
the poor beast. It might just have been sent by God to show you the