This past summer I had the pleasure of being in the company of three well known Christian authors. One accompanied me on a flight to Toronto, and with no reluctance, she engaged me in a deep, but beautiful conversation about grace, gratitude and blissfulness of life. Her poetical voice sounded heavenly to my writer’s ears.
Normally I wouldn’t have invited the second author to my place. But since my pastor recommended him, I thought of inviting him for a short visit on a Sunday afternoon. To my surprise, what I thought would be a boring session turned out to be a most valuable time I had spent that day. Unbelievable were his story of falling from grace and then encountering Christ in the dungeon of a prison. Through his transforming experience, he was able to point out to me what Good Life is all about.
I’ve heard of the name of the third author, but I’ve never attempted to get in touch with him. With his celebrity like status among Christian authors, and his books regularly hitting the New York Times best seller list, it’s hard to keep a track of him. Since, our women’s ministry at church encouraged the leaders of the Bible study group to learn from him how to overcome fear, I decided to invite him and listen to what he had to say. No wonder, the Reader’s Digest voted him as America’s Best Preacher. His words enthralled me to the extent that I’ve allowed him to stand next to Phil Yancey on my favorite authors list now.
Do I sound insane and my words make no sense to you? If so, I won’t blame you for it doesn’t make sense to me either, unless I’m talking in the language of Max Lucado. It is he who wrote, ‘Readers invite authors to a private moment. …They set the table, pull out the chair and invite you, “Come, talk to me for a moment.” It is the invitation of a lifetime.
I invited Ann Voskamp, the author of One Thousand Gifts to board Air Canada with me to Toronto when I flew to attend my nephew’s wedding in July. Voskamp proved to be a great writer by speaking gracefully and poetically through the pages of her book and transformed my heart to live with a gratitude perspective there onwards. The wildflowers along the sidewalks seems prettier to my unobserving eyes now, the unnoticed moon shines much brighter than before, lavender smells heavenly and apple bites crunchier. The list on my gratitude journal keep growing as I learn to live life simply and taking pleasure in day to day mundane activities.
If not for my pastor, I wouldn’t have chosen to read the Good Life by Charles Colson. If Voskamp had handed me the desire to record my small blessings, Colson had opened the window for me to see what Good Life looks like. Once an aide to American President and then a fellow mate to drug dealers and armed robbers in prison, Colson is able to offer nuggets of wisdom through his encounter with Christ in prison and life transforming experiences.
“Freedom, I was discovering, had less to do with being inside or outside of a prison than with not having to live up to false expectation.” He writes. The born again experience enabled him to love and empathize with his fellow prisoners and a prison ministry was born once Colson was freed to go home after serving his term. According to Colson, “The premises on which men and women base their lives are often revealed by how their lives end.” He further goes on to say, “The workbench, the kitchen counter, the computer-station, or any other workspace is an altar. There is intrinsic meaning to work well done-and when we fail to grasp this, we become hollow persons.”
The last author I invited this summer was none other than the famous Max Lucado. He mesmerized me with his relaxed conversational writing style and sprinkles of humor dotting the pages of his book Fearless. Authors like Lucado make writers like me want to close down the computer and shoo away the dream of writing for good in self-doubt. But the author has something to say to such writers in his article titled, The Write Stuff.” “Don’t give up. Be stubborn with your standard. Stay faithful in prayer. Don’t begrudge the hard work....Accept it. We need your writing. This generation needs the best books you can write and the clearest thinking you can render.”
Summer has come and gone. But the lessons I learned from these authors would linger for many more summers. That’s the power of great writing! And, that' the blessing of good reading.