When I was in college I latched onto the idea that we are created in God’s image. I went as far as puling some commentaries on Genesis off the shelf at the library and taking a few notes. You can’t write a whole book on the first two chapters of Genesis, not one that anybody wants to read anyway. That might be a good leaping off point for exploring man’s relationship with God throughout the whole Bible, but at the time that was the only idea I had: we are made in God’s image.
Some years later my wife and I were rehearsing with the church choir for the upcoming Christmas cantata. That starts about September in medium sized SBC churches. One of the songs, possibly the name of the program, was Immanuel. As the music fades there was a haunting unison resolution of the words “God with us.” That thought I couldn’t shake and as the New Year began, I’m guessing around 2001 or 2002, I started writing that book. Over the years I would come back to it, often scratching everything and starting over. I would write an introduction, more than once I wrote the first chapter. Then the weeks and months would pass. As the years went by the idea that I would ever complete a manuscript seemed more and more like a pipe dream.
My friends IRL and readers of this blog know about the role Michael Spencer had on my decision to blog. I had read Internet Monk a few times and commented once or twice but it was when Michael began podcasting that I felt I just had to say something. The eminent saxophone player Lisa Simpson (yes the cartoon character) once met a blues player named Bleeding Gums Murphy who became her inspiration and mentor. He told her that when the Blues welled up inside of her and was bursting to come out she better put an instrument of front of it. Michael was my friend in real life before I knew what blogging was, and he took the time to teach me this instrument. When he finally decided to write a book (people really did ask him about it) he hired a literary agent and later signed a contract with a publisher. He was always mentioning his next deadline, and talking about negotiating a subtitle, and it finally pushed me over the edge. In 2009 I wrote three whole chapters. And then our daughter Johannah was born. And then Michael got sick. And those chapters were later deleted or just lost and I would eventually start again.
Blog posts offer instant gratification. I can shot off a 600 word post in 15 or 20 minutes and there will be likes and comments the next day. After preaching a 30 minute sermon people line up to shake your hand and tell you how much they enjoyed it. The process of writing, editing and rewriting seems to go on forever with no positive reinforcement. Especially if all you ever write is the beginning over and over. Which is why what I’m about to announce may come as a bit of a shock.
My first book, God is Near, will be available this summer. It’s a little early for details, but we expect a trim size of 5.5″ X 8.5″ to come in at around 125 pages. Expect a retail price of around $12.95 but that’s not set in stone yet either; the actual production cost will depend on page count, which could still change. I have worked pretty intently over the last couple of weeks to wrap things up, and resisted the urge to say something in this forum about it. I did request prayer from a couple of Facebook prayer groups and sent one email to a personal friend. The manuscript is complete but there is still work to be done. I do covet your prayers as the final steps are taken. Writing is fun but now there are forms to fill out and releases to sign; publishing is a business and we live in a litigious society.
So I am thankful for many blessings and pray that God continues to bless. And look on the bright side – it will be another 10 or 12 weeks before I start begging each of you to buy one.