I love new beginnings, like the beginning of this New Year, 2014. Of course I have unfinished projects and unanswered prayers leftover from last year, but there’s something about a new year that makes me excited and hopeful and ready to put past disappointments and failures behind me and start all over again.
As each new year begins, I return to the book of Genesis and start reading through the Bible once again from start to finish. If I keep up with my daily readings of about 20 minutes each, I will complete the Bible a year from now with Revelation. I will also begin to write my next novel at the start of the year. This next book is called Upon This Foundation, which will tell Nehemiah’s story. The plot and characters come from the Bible of course, but the “fictionalized” part of the story is already forming in my head and I can’t wait to put it down on paper… or in this case, type it on my computer.
Beginnings are very important. Good writing advice says that the first words and pages of a novel are very important and must hook the reader like a fish on a line and entice them to continue reading. I’ll try to do that with Nehemiah’s story. And the Bible also begins our salvation story with a great hook: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Makes you want to keep reading, doesn’t it? But a few pages into God’s story, we read of tragedy as sin enters the picture.
As I begin writing each novel, I always have great plans for it, imagining how the book will take shape and what readers will experience as they read. But somehow, my novels never seem to end up the way I’ve planned them in my mind. They aren’t bad or flawed…they just turn out differently than I expected. Not so with God’s story. From the beginning, He knew how His creation would end, even after sin entered the story—and what a glorious ending it will be: “The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
An interesting thing happens during the year that it takes me to finish my novels, and it may explain why the story sometimes deviates from my plan. I become changed along the way. God seems to use the daily events of my life throughout the year, along with my daily Bible readings and the Christian books I study, to challenge me and change me and help me grow spiritually. By the time I complete the first rough draft of my novel, the themes and challenges I’ve faced in my own life seem to be reflected there. If I’ve struggled with forgiveness, for instance, I see a theme of forgiveness emerging. If I’ve resisted change in my own life, my characters seem to encounter a similar problem. The losses I’ve wrestled with become my characters’ wrestling matches as well.
As I embark on a new beginning in 2014, I wonder what new insights I will discover in the pages of Scripture, and what new challenges I will face in my personal life. I already know what some of those challenges will be, since my husband is retiring and we’re moving to a different state, leaving loved ones and friends behind. But no matter what this year may bring, I’m comforted to know that not only will God always be a constant in my life, leading and guiding me, but He already knows the ending:
“There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5).
Don’t you love the way God’s story begins with darkness and ends with light? May God bless you as you journey with Him in 2014.