If you look at my real writer’s facebook page, you’ll notice my banner picture of an old typewriter, a page loaded, and the words “calm before the storm” typed out center page. I found this photo on iStock Photo. I admit, I wasn’t looking for this particular photo, nor the phrase, but it grabbed me. The page morphing into storm clouds and the ominous single line, in that instant, became my logo and tagline.
I’ve bounced between several genres–mystery, suspense, and thrillers. All have a great deal in common. All get helpings of each genre within their pages, but each gets a greater dose of the elements for which their genre is named. A mystery will be mostly about solving a single crime, usually with a murder victim, a sleuth, and a puzzle for the reader to unravel. A suspense will have a mystery hidden within its pages, but the reader is more interested in sitting on the edge of her chair, wondering what horror awaits the hero down that dark alley. A thriller usually involves a larger stage, a bit of mystery and suspense, but with stakes that range from a dead President to a dead population.
My point? I’m a Christian writer. That’s different than a Christian who writes. A Christian writer will always write from a Christian world view, often relating his stories to a biblical theme or ensuring that his characters at least reflect on God during their sleuthing and world-saving exploits. A writing Christian, like John Grisham, may still try to insert a bit of the Gospel in his writings, but is under no obligation to do so. Grisham, by the way, was turned down by several Christian publishers before turning to the secular market.
So, as a Christian writer, I am most likely writing for Christians. Yes, all Christian writers want to reach the lost, but as literary agent Chip MacGregor alludes, we don’t speak their language. The odds of a poor lost sinner reading a Brandilyn Collins suspense and turning his life over to Christ are slim. I’m sure it happens, but it would be far more efficient to knock on doors and hand out tracts. What writers like Brandilyn do, however, is give Christians something to read that will not tempt our minds into places we’d rather not go. Writers like her also offer encouragement. Bad things happen to Christians, sometimes involving deadly spiders and psychotic killers, but God is always in control (I’ll have to ask Him about those spiders, though).
Once I read what Chip had to say and put some prayer and thought into it, I realized that my calling lies in that same arena–one of encouragement, not evangelism. My mission is to offer a bit of a link to God’s reality to my brothers and sisters in Christ, who find themselves immersed in a foreign land with foreign ways of thinking 6 days a week. And probably most of Sunday.
So, “the calm before the storm” reached out and took hold of my imagination on a day when I’m reading about impending war in Syria, random shootings in America, and what appears to be a complete moral decay worldwide. I’m tempted, like many writers, to write another End Times novel, where God finally reigns down His wrath on an unrepentant world.
Been there. Done that.
What I really find myself thinking is exactly what my facebook tagline states, is this the calm before the storm? How long will it last? What will happen to us, to America, in these final years of “normalcy”? Is the calm before the storm really all that calm? It’s been a slow hurricane season, but we can all remember the newscasts on The Weather Channel before God’s greatest weather creations make landfall. There isn’t much calm to be seen. People are rushing about, stocking up, boarding up, and hightailing it out of Charleston.
Which is where my writing is heading. To that “day before” when things aren’t quite normal, but there’s still time to get a few souls to high ground. What will it take to shake America from her comfortable moorings of wealth and prosperity, forcing her to return to the values and beliefs that made her great before the first corporation was hatched?
I believe that God, in His mercy, will allow America to crumble. Like the sinner addicted to porn, booze, drugs, sex, etc., a nation must hit bottom, must learn to hate what it sees when it looks in the mirror, before it will finally stretch its collective hand to the Creator and plead for His mercy and grace.
America on her knees. That’s where our enemies want us. Ironically, that’s where God needs us. Only then can we begin to heal. I’d like my stories to take us on that journey. Purely speculation, of course. I’m no prophet. But I am a story teller. And I hope to tell the stories of broken men and women, and a broken nation, that come to the Final Understanding in these days before the end, during the calm before the storm.