So yesterday morning I was at Dunkin Donuts working on this book project for one of the pastor clients of Docent, and it occurred to me how good God has been to me. It dawned on me that I was getting paid to listen to a sermon podcast and take notes, something I enjoy doing and do for pleasure anyway. And today I was back at the Double D (it's the only place in my little town with free wifi) getting paid today to write an article about how awesome Jesus is.
Then I got an email from the editor at a magazine I really like, asking to see the article I pitched to them last week, so I was already humming with excitement over that possibility when I came home and in my mailbox was the contract from a publisher for my book, The Unvarnished Jesus. I just initialed and signed a bazillion pages and am going to put it back in the mail this afternoon.
I'm getting published!
This is a dream come true for me. Some of you have been following my writing online since I first started, with The Thinklings in 2003 and then with my original solo blog, Mysterium Tremendum, which I actually shut down with the resolution that I wouldn't return until I could say I was a published author.
Of course, at the time I was writing novels (and still am, technically). Then Element happened, and one of the first series I preached there was called "Old School Jesus," a 12 week epic that sought to put "historical Jesus" studies into a more pastoral, devotional, and -- above all -- gospel-centered context. Less than a year into Element's ministry, when I got the final, stinging rejection on the novel I consider my greatest work, my passion project, I turned my disappointment into opportunity by thinking about turning that Jesus series into a book. So I did.
I told my agent that I knew it might be tough to sell me as a non-fiction writer, but most of the people who have been reading me for 5 years know me only as a non-fiction writer. But I was a novelist, and that's how we'd been trying to sell me to the publishing world. I'm not a big name pastor or Christian celebrity or specialized "expert," and it's hard to get a non-fiction book published if you're not any of those things. But I am a pastor who is passionate about Jesus and I have been told I'm a pretty good writer. So I got some great endorsements from friends (and recognized names and authors) like Ray Ortlund, Mark Bertrand, Michael Spencer, Glenn Lucke, and Joe Carter, and sent the manuscript in.
And now Kregel wants to publish it.
I was kind of laughing on the phone with my agent the other day, saying, "Who woulda thought I'd start out writing fiction and get published on my first non-fiction manuscript?"
I told him I was just as surprised as he was. I certainly didn't expect it would go this way.
But God did. And I'm thankful that he has allowed me this opportunity. When I was 5 years old, in a little kindergarten questionnaire that asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wrote "author." Not policeman, not fireman, not doctor. Not even writer. But "author." This is a dream come true for me, and it is sweeter for knowing that even when I was depressed, when I believed in my heart that I was a failure as a husband and a father and a man and a pastor and a writer and a Christian, God was still good and still God.
Thank you, long time readers especially, for your friendship and your encouragement.
Take nothing for granted!
To God be the glory.