I’ve just passed the halfway point in writing Tomorrow’s Sun, my first solo, first full-length contracted novel. I love my characters, I’m excited about the concept, but the past four months have been riddled with doubt. Sure, I can write a sweet little romance, but who am I to think I can write women’s fiction with layers of plot and multiple points of view? And what if I can’t do this on my own without my co-author’s input, encouragement, spiritual insight, and boot in my backside? Am I doing this for me or for God? Maybe it will amuse a few readers, but will it convict? Will it turn them toward the Lord? Am I on the right path?
Two days ago God, God lit the ground at my feet.
My hero, Jake, is dealing with anger over the recent death of his sister, Abby. He’s also trying to overcome his tendency to be a rescuer. Emily, my heroine, is recovering from a horrible skiing accident. After a year and a half of depending on others, she's out on her own and determined to take care of herself. And then she finds herself in a boat in the middle of a storm with Jake’s eleven-year-old nephew. Enter our hero...to the rescue.
As you probably guessed, Jake’s developing some feelings for Emily. But Emily fights his attempts to rescue her from the river, and from her demons.
So this is where I was in my manuscript on Sunday when Bill and I decided to visit a different church...just for a change of pace. The pastor began his sermon: “Many of you are familiar with the story of Abby Sunderland, the sixteen-year-old girl who tried to sail solo around the world. There are many lessons to be learned from her story, but the one I want to focus on today is how she unexpectedly needed someone to rescue her.”
A girl named Abby, a boat, a storm, an unexpected need to be rescued... God had my attention.
The pastor went on to read from Matthew 18: “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one. . .if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”
I have said, and written, many times that there’s no such think as coincidence. But sometimes we’re too busy to recognize the “Godincidences” in our lives. I came home from church on Sunday, still tingling with “Holy Spirit bumps” and listened and transcribed a chunk of the online sermon into my story. If the pastor grants permission, I’ll use it verbatim. If not, I’ll paraphrase. That message—the one I wouldn’t have heard if we hadn’t decided on a “whim” to visit another church—gave me the spiritual focus I needed at that very moment for my hero: God pursues us relentlessly...we need to join Him in relentlessly pursuing the lost. At the same time He gifted me with the confidence I’d been lacking—the belief that story is a way he allows me to help "pursue," and He may use this message in my story to reach one of “the lost.”
So at the moment, Jake is going to focus on leading Emily back to her Shepherd. (A few weeks from now. . .well, you’ll just need to read the book!) And I’m going to focus on trusting that God has a plan for Tomorrow’s Sun.
And if I needed another confirmation, I turned on the Biography channel while folding clothes this afternoon. Tony Danza was in the middle of telling about the horrific skiing accident he was in fifteen years ago. He described his thoughts at the time. I’ll be using those, thank you. And he mentioned something else—it took him eighteen months to fully recover. Just like my Emily.
God is so good.