So, yeah. I’m working on my next book. Technically, I started it several years ago, and it has morphed since then. Let’s be real, it’s still morphing.
So goes the publishing journey. In a minute I’m actually going to ask for your help, Dear Reader.
In regard to the topic/genre (Spiritual Growth), I have a bone to pick.
Note to self: look up the etymology of the phrase “bone to pick.”
Many of the authors I read take the approach of a counselor to a reader who is broken and in need of compassion. Which is very often needed, welcomed, and result in may books purchased. There’s plenty of brokenness right now, and people need a lot of compassionate counseling. I get it. I’ve been there. I absolutely do not disagree.
But, let’s be real: we’re not ALL going through a season of severe brokenness and need a counselor. Yes, we all experience brokenness at one time or other, and in our seasons of grief and trauma and pain, we require extreme measures of gentleness. I’m immensely grateful for many authors who have written in this tone, and that I’ve had the privilege to read over the years. I have treasured the tone of several authors like Ann Voskamp and Max Lucado when I’ve been in seasons of anxiety, grief, or depression.
But in many seasons of life when I’m recovering and getting put back together, and in seasons when I haven’t yet hit that next patch of pain, I have enjoyed books like Crazy Love by Francis Chan and Generous Justice by Timothy Keller that step on my toes a little bit. In these seasons, I want to work hard and get stronger so that I can be fit and ready for that next crisis. Fit for God’s Army. Fit for serving others.
Someone quoted Beth Moore to me yesterday saying something along the lines of, we’ve got to take off our high-heeled peep toes and put on our hiking boots, because it’s time to do some climbing! (Said with her best southern belle twang.)
And herein lies the tone of my next book. It’s all about fitness; it’s about spiritual fitness.
If we’re honest, we put so much focus into getting our bodies into shape. We diet and we train and we go to the gym, or at least get gym memberships. We stretch and walk and run and crunch. We have Apps that count calories and track our steps and calculate our weight loss.
Got your boots on? I’m about to do some stepping on those pretty little toes:
Are we taking this much care of our spiritual growth?
Are we pursuing God’s source of spiritual strength and solid faith? Are we disciplined in our becoming more like Jesus Christ?
I ask the mirror these questions. I see the bulging belly of a 42 year old woman who has borne two children and whose hormones are doing numbers on this metabolism. I see the attempts of squats and yoga and dumbbells and cardio with yo-yo results. I’m not killing myself to get in shape, but I’m not “letting myself go” either.
But, more importantly, do I see a spirit more like His? Do I see a belief in His love stronger than ever? Do I see His gifts working through me for the benefit of others and for God’s glorification? Do I see the trained muscles that are like chiseled Scripture, hidden in my heart?
A physical trainer can’t lose the weight for you. But they can tell you what to eat for your body type and show you the exercises that need to be practiced and repeated in multiple sets. Similarly, I can’t make anyone’s spirit fit for God’s Kingdom by writing a book. But I can give you the tools from the Bible and practices to get strong, and I can cheer you on. I can tell you what it takes to stay accountable to making progress and moving toward the sanctification of your soul.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.Philippians 2:12-13
As I’m working on this first draft, I’m in need of a few “test readers” so that I can see what’s landing, what’s needed, and so that I can strike the right tone as I’m offering this spiritual training.
Would you be willing to help me? I need to interview between 5 and 15 people as a part of my research as I’m writing and querying agents. This would be a phone interview (or Zoom) and would last about 15-20 minutes about spiritual fitness and faith disciplines such as Bible reading, Sabbath rhythm, confession, meditation, and more. If you’re willing to help with this, would you click the button below to let me know?
One metaphor I keep coming back to is found in 2 Timothy 2:20-21, and I’ll paraphrase:
In God’s kitchen, we are his dishes, useful for a variety of His needs and desires. Some are every-day plastic cereal bowls. Others are ornate vases to hold and water precious table flowers. Some are plain stainless steel butter knives and others are crafted precision cleavers. We’ll all get utilized for the purpose of the Master at one point or other, but He’s not going to serve a feast on the Corelle dishes when He could use the good china. Be the good china. Be ready for God to use you in whatever special, unique, powerful, influential, worship-filled way He needs and desires for you. Cooperate with His shaping of you and don’t resist His hands when the Potter works you from pounded clay to spun finery. Do not be like the plastic ware, easily broken and too fragile for important use. Be strong and able, beautiful and useful. This is your purpose for the Creator.
Let’s be fit for His Kingdom!