When Chuck Colson reviewed my novel Daisy Chain on Breakpoint, I rejoiced. But did you know there's a bigger story behind this? One that God orchestrated and bookended perfectly?
At the beginning of 2000 while we laughed in retrospect about Y2K, I wrote a letter to Chuck Colson, thanking him for his and Nancy Pearcey's book How Now Shall We Live. I also shared that I felt God was calling me to write, and I sent him some of my work. (I shudder to think of that now, but this was before I knew better.) He wrote me a wonderful letter dated April 14, 2000. Most of it centered around the book and his gratitude for my comments. He signed it, but then wrote something else in his own hand. I have included it above. It reads: "Keep writing. God will honor your faithfulness."
I kept the letter, sometimes pulling it out to remind me that God would honor my diligent pursuit of Him as I endeavored to write.
A month later, I heard one of Breakpoint's broadcasts. It so moved me, I ordered the transcript. Dated May 23, 2000, the title of Chuck's message was "Uncle Tom's Cabin: The Power of Story." In it he wrote, "I know that when it comes to learning moral lessons, I've often been much more affected by works of fiction than by abstract theological discourses." He continues, "Uncle Tom's Cabin is a reminder that one of the reasons we read fiction is because fiction helps train the moral imagination."
That transcript changed my life. It initiated a seed of desire I'd temporarily planted in the soil of my dreams. I knew I wanted to write stories--but not just stories for the sake of spinning a tale. No, I wanted to write stories that changed hearts, lives, nations. I wanted to expose evil for what it was, yet shine God's white-hot light in the midst of that evil, proving His preeminence and the significant power of His redemption.
So I wrote.
I joined critique groups, attended conferences, met self-imposed deadlines, striving to hone the craft and become a writer who weaves words skillfully.
I finished my first novel, but it didn't find a publishing home. Then an agent signed me for representation. I wrote parenting books while the stories inside wouldn't let go of me--it's as if they'd finally rooted deep in the soil, and their roots tendrilled through me. I wrote Watching the Tree Limbs and Wishing on Dandelions, exposing the evil of sexual abuse and the redemptive hand of God in those impossible situations. Those books found a home at NavPress.
I started teaching writing at conferences around the nation, toting my Breakpoint transcript with me, an evangelist for the power of story.
And then my sixth book Daisy Chain hit the shelves--a Zondervan title that pulled back the curtain of a shattered home (though it looks spot-on perfect from the outside) and exposes the destructiveness of family secrets. Two more novels followed that book, all centering on the family and secrets.
With that in mind, imagine the joy I felt when I heard Daisy Chain's praise on Breakpoint. God had, in a very real way, fulfilled Chuck's words:
I’m not a big fan of “message” books,
where the writer neglects his or her craft
and just concentrates on pushing an agenda.
But Mary DeMuth is not that kind of writer.
Her books are beautifully and sensitively written,
and her characters are realistic and well-developed.
She has a true gift for showing how God’s light
can penetrate even the darkest of situations,
and start to turn lives around.
Even her villains are not beyond the reach of God’s grace.
I cried when I heard the broadcast--one of those holy moments where I glimpsed heaven and reveled in God's sovereign plan. I did keep writing. God did honor my faithfulness.
For those of you who have heard God's call to some great mission (whether it be writing, or ministering to widows, or painting masterpieces, or baking bread for neighbors), don't despair. Hold on to the words spoken over you. Remember this verse: "Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all" (1 Timothy 4:14-15).
Simply put: don't give up.
Don't neglect to exercise the gifts God has given you.
Don't despise small beginnings.
Be patient for God's plan to unfold.