Ever heard the expression, “The faster I go, the behinder I get?” That’s how I feel sometimes. I’ll admit in the last year, I’ve started to feel older, physically as well as in other ways. Granted, my schedule is full and active and I’m still able to get most of what I’d like accomplished each day. . .except for the one thing I want to do most. Write. As recently as three years ago, I could stay up until almost 2:00 a.m. every morning writing or editing (I could tell time by the old television comedies that kept me company). Now, I need at least five hours sleep or I can’t function in my rather demanding, full-time day job. Well, I can function, but certainly not as well as when I have more sleep. I’m also craving more vegetables, trying to get more exercise and being more faithful in taking a daily vitamin supplement. I’ve finally started to face the fact I need to give my body what it needs in order to stay healthy and function better in all phases of my life, including my writing.
I’ve also lost a few friends my age in the past year or so. I’m in my 50s, not my 80s. These losses have also brought home the hard truth that my life as I know it will one day cease to exist. Of course, knowing where my future lies in an eternity with the Lord is an unbelievable comfort, and I can’t even imagine living without that hope I have in a risen Savior. But I also understand each book I write could potentially be the last one. I’m not being morbid, just realistic. Simply put, our written words need to count. Whether it’s in an e-mail, in a blog post or in a book, we never know what seeds we might plant or how our characters or stories might impact or affect someone’s life for Christ.
Recently, I’ve seen something interesting happen with my books. I’ve had a few women on Goodreads rate my books—with varying results—who’ve never read a Christian book before. Let me qualify that statement. Women whose favorite books are, well, decidedly not inspirational in a Christian way and, quite frankly, fall under the “smut” category. You know the books I mean. At first, I was shocked and wondered, “How on earth did they find my books?” One woman said, “Your books were the first Christian books I ever wanted to read.” Another said, “I wanted to believe a man like the hero in your book existed.” One more said, “The covers are really pretty and made me want to read them.”
My first reaction to one especially low rating from one such reader was to get a little steamed. But then, as He always does and for which I’m so grateful, the Lord got hold of me. I searched my heart and He helped me see the truth. Why am I writing? For myself? For good reviews? What’s my purpose in writing these books? Yes, it’s my overwhelming passion to write, and I’m blessed to be able to do what I love. However, I can admit the joy would be drained from me if I couldn’t weave spiritual truths into my books. What would be the point? To me, they’d be empty words.
I’ve often heard it said that if you take the spiritual components out of a romance and it can stand on its own, then it’s not a Christian romance. My books would absolutely fall apart without those elements. There are some who believe you can’t draw readers who aren’t believers to read a faith-based book. I disagree, in large part because of my own experience as an author. My books are clearly labeled as Christian romance and the descriptions also label them as such. Granted, I don’t have non-believers in droves rushing to buy my books, but they’re not “watered down” in terms of a strong Christian message. Redemption, grace and forgiveness are huge themes I always touch on in one way or another in my writing.
The bottom line? If I’ve touched one reader with a spiritual truth she might remember somewhere in the pathway of her life, then I’ll have done my job. The way I look at it, we have a responsibility to share our faith, as the Lord commands, and what a joy it is!
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28: 19-20