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Know Jack #391 By Faith We Understand

“For I say through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…”

St. Paul

Yes, you’re in the right place. This is Know Jack. If the scriptural quote frightens or angers you, sorry—not sorry. This blog is as much about the writer as the writing, and the writer is a Christian. He’s also conservative, white, straight and male for which he apologizes not a whit. Okay, so much for the trigger warning.

On to the blog.

If you’re a writer, it helps to be a bit odd—to look at the world and see things from a different perspective or have imaginary friends who talk to you. I’m guilty as charged. As a result, there’s a certain hint of mystique that comes with being recognized as a writer.

I’m not sure why that is, I just found it to be true. People I don’t know think I’m interesting when I know for a fact I’m as plain as dirt. I read my reviews and double check to see if they wrote about my book by mistake. Don’t get me wrong. I like it when readers say good things about me and my work. I just find it hard to accept at face value. I’m just an ordinary guy.

The bad reviews I readily believe. They do not discourage me though. I’ve read books by authors whose work I love and been disappointed. Not every book is for everybody. I look at negative reviews as a learning tool. Besides, I was a pastor and compared to parishioners, literary critics are pussycats.

My idea of writing success has always been modest. I never expected more than a few family members and friends to buy my book or for there to be more than one. After my first book came out, I lowered the bar even further. That changed drastically recently.

I had a book signing and no one I knew came. The bookstore had a slow day and the few customers who showed up refused to even look in my direction. The experience left me questioning my writing ability, my ability to live my faith and my own assessment of my worth.

There is a story in the Bible about Elijah. He was a passionate, all-in kind of guy. He challenged all the other prophets in the land to a showdown. Then, he called fire down from heaven in a spectacular victory. The next day he was on the run from the evil queen who sought to kill him. He hid out from the whole world in the shade of a juniper tree Ever since he has been derided for giving in to self-pity. The charge is utter nonsense.

Elijah issued his challenge at God’s behest and called down fire at God’s command. He had no such command from God to face the army of Jezebel all alone. I suppose there are those who would be happier if he had died a glorious death taking on an army singlehandedly. I am not one of those—never have been. What was he to do but flee? And how was he to feel but deflated?

I’m no Elijah—not even close. I have come to the conclusion that I don’t think more highly of myself than I should. If anything, I undervalue my abilities. What I do have is a positive belief that God knows what He’s doing. If He says write, I start looking for my laptop. I have written under those exact circumstances—nobody’s read the book, but that’s not on me.

Hebrews 11:3 begins with the words “Through faith we understand…” I have learned that when my hope, my ability, and my power to reason leave me disappointed, my faith will lift me up.


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