It takes courage to be an author, to declare and publish to a busy, perhaps skeptical world what you have experienced privately … to tell in “bright lights” what you have seen and learned in dark places.
Long ago in Bethlehem, shepherds waiting and watching on a dark hillside experienced a wondrous awakening and illumination. Then, even as they stood there in awe of the heavenly hosts, the shepherds must have needed courage and bravery to leave their flocks in the care of their guard dogs and run into the dark, crowded city of Bethlehem to look for a newborn baby “in a manger” and then worship him as the promised king. Surely there were more qualified and famous individuals to use as messengers.
I think the needed courage gripped the shepherds because the authenticity of their experience and their certainty of it overcame their trepidation. They obeyed, they went, they told. And their story was full of immediacy and hope.
Sometimes we authors feel that way.
Though angels didn’t exactly appear to us in the night sky and declare wonderful tidings of great joy for us to write, Christian writers do sense a call from God and we experience wonder and the help of God (and perhaps even of angels) as we write. We certainly have good tidings to share.
Janyne McConnaughey is an example of one writer who has a life-changing story of hope and is compelled to write and tell her story to encourage others. I don’t know whether she has been “touched by an angel” but I know she has been touched by God with the courage to share her story. The title of her first book, BRAVE, tells that. And these comments from readers and reviewers on Amazon.com tell us of the authenticity and immediacy and hope in her story.
“There is hope!”
“A compelling journey”
“A very important book”
“A road less traveled … a path to healing”
“Kept me on the edge of my seat”
“Healing from complex trauma”
“A roadmap to freedom”
“Brave is a fitting title for this true story.”
“A beautiful soul shows us the way to hope and healing.”
“A book every person who has struggled with trauma should read.”
“This book can be your path to healing from childhood trauma.”
Whatever your place of waiting ‘in the night’—or journey in the dark— be encouraged. A savior is born and he brings good news to the oppressed, including those suffering from complex trauma.
“Does the day’s long journey take the whole long day?”
“From morn to night, my friend.”
This poem by Christina Rossetti has often given me encouragement to keep stepping onward and upward on my own life’s journey. Just recently, Rossetti’s poem came to mind again— when I noticed that many Cladach book titles allude to various aspects and dimensions of this journey called ‘life.’ For instance,
On that up-hill road, we often WALK:
As we walk, we will inevitably need to TRUST:
We may need to RUN (from SHAME and toward LOVE):
Our journey may lead to ESCAPE:
We may have to release and LEAVE BEHIND:
Our journey will be fraught with DANGERS:
Our journey will involve SEARCHING and finding:
We will COME to oases that bid us to STAY awhile and CELEBRATE:
The journey provides stretches of solitude for pondering and REMEMBERING:
The journey includes places for PAUSING, letting others pass, and finding renewed perspective:
Sunday night my husband and I got around to watching, for the first time, the excellent and important movie, Hotel Rwanda. It was harder to watch than I expected. I’m glad the portrayal of genocide wasn’t as graphic as it could’ve been. The true story and the acting were gripping.
What broke my heart was seeing those Rwandan people—children, adults, a whole nation—traumatized by the violence, hate, death, and evil. I went to bed disturbed in my soul. But rather than seeing images of the movie in my mind … I saw images and felt the awful panic of the time as a 4-year-old when I was trapped in, and barely escaped from, a burning house in the middle of the night.
I know a little of what trauma is and how it stays with you. Enough to cause my heart to “go out” to the millions of war-, genocide-, disaster-, and massacre-traumatized people of our world.
Then on Monday morning we woke to news of a shooting massacre in our own country, this time in Las Vegas.
I find myself praying, “O, Lord, send the balm of your healing Spirit to these loved-ones of yours who are emotionally wounded and stuck in ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ mode. Wake us up and fill us with your love and somehow use us to bring the hope and healing you offer.”
Similar to Rwanda, South Sudan experienced horrors of genocide. One Sudanese survivor/refugee named Yien told author Judith Galblum Pex, “We have suffered too much and are still suffering. In our twenty-one years of war, two million people have died. Some people look to the SPLA (the South Sudanese army) to take care of [us], but I turn to God.” (quoted on p. 151 of A People Tall and Smooth)
May this be true of the countless survivors of recent disasters, massacres, and wars—In the aftermath of these horrors and traumas, may people turn to the God … the God who does not cause such evil, but who is with us and is love.
We finished our salads and chocolate mousse at the corner cafe and, after a merci beaucoup to the waiter, stepped across the old street of Paris. We had come to France to visit our missionary son and we had an opportunity to be sightseers in Paris. On our first full day in the city of lights, we had decided to walk from our tiny hotel near the Eiffel Tower, find a place to eat lunch, then head toward the River Seine. We stood at the open corner of a small park, examining our map. Finding our location on the map, we turned toward the direction of the river (we thought).
Before we could take a step in that direction, a small, middle-aged French lady appeared at our side. Perhaps she was a Parisian housewife out shopping for the day’s bread and vegetables (earlier we had seen narrow streets lined with open-air markets of fresh produce and flowers) though she wasn’t carrying anything. She wore a simple, colorful dress and a cardigan sweater missing a button. She smiled, her eyes twinkled, and she said something in French. We didn’t know how to respond, so she reached for our map. Somewhat startled, we handed it to her. She examined it for a moment then pointed to something on the map. We looked.
“Yes, the river. That’s where we want to go,” I said in English, as we all still faced down the street.
Even as I spoke, the helpful little madame, still clutching our map, turned 180 degrees, stretched forward her arm, and decisively pointed in the opposite direction. We laughed with slight embarrassment, and with genuine gratitude we practiced our merci again. The lady returned the map to my husband, and she was gone. The memory of her smiling eyes has lingered with me.
I don’t know how far we would have walked before we realized we were going the wrong way, but I’m sure our day would have turned out differently. The special surprises we found along our walk that day wouldn’t have happened.
Every morning, as Christ followers, we pray and ask the Lord to guide us through the day. Then we start out going in the direction that seems right, whether in business, ministry, relationships, or activities. If the Lord sends someone or something to get our attention and point us in a different direction, we need to leave our own ideas, turn around, and go the other way. Later, we’ll be glad we did.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be a healing for your flesh and a refreshment for your body.” (Proverbs 3:5-8)