The Hero Door
(Updated May 1, 2022) I was good at my job. Everyone in my company knew it, and they relied on my computer expertise daily. Being a helpful, dependable worker who was seen by his peers and supervisor as a godly, competent professional brought satisfaction … for the most part.
As the years dragged on, a nagging doubt never went away. My daily tasks certainly helped the company’s bottom line, but the labors that consumed most of my time were not making an eternal impact. Every computer program I wrote would eventually be forsaken and forgotten.
Since I am the father of seven children, the burden to produce income never went away. Even though what I was doing seemed temporal and earth-bound, I forced myself to be satisfied, because providing for my children was essential, the responsibility of a good husband and father. How could I do otherwise?
Yet, something burned inside, a fire that refused to stop stinging my soul. This Scripture continued to come to mind. “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
“Seek the holy things first. Make an eternal impact.” The call never ceased, morning or night. I had to answer it, but I had no idea how.
One day, my wife and I were discussing how to infuse in our children a desire to write. To this point they had found writing to be drudgery. I offered to write a story and to get them involved in the creative process. During my leisure time, I wrote a chapter each week, and my wife read the new entries out loud during our family times on Friday evenings. After each reading, I asked our children to offer their ideas about what would happen next in the story. Then I would try to implement their ideas during my next week of writing.
The process worked very well, and my children soon learned to love creative writing. I didn’t expect, however, that this experiment would ignite a passion in me to write. I saw how powerful storytelling could be, and the thought of writing stories stoked that burning flame. This could be the answer to the question I had been pondering.
I set out on a journey to learn the writing craft and progressed quite well. After two years, one night I had a dream about a boy who could breathe fire. I told my eldest son about it, and we took that seed of an idea and developed it into a premise for a story. During the next year, I wrote a novel based on that premise and called it Dragons in our Midst. It incorporated my heart and passion, and I believed it would make an eternal impact.
I submitted proposals to many publishers and agents only to be turned down again and again. After eight years of trying, during which I received more than two hundred rejections, I wondered what I could be doing wrong. I believed God gave me the idea for the story, and the burning passion to make an eternal impact continued to drive me forward in spite of the rejections. Something had to be missing.
During prayer one night, it seemed that God gave me insight. I was writing stories that portrayed young people stepping out in faith to face great dangers as they sought to achieve seemingly impossible goals. Yet, was I willing to do the same? By now it seemed impossible to find a publisher, and my goal to eternally impact readers seemed out of reach, but what was I willing to do to achieve it? What was I risking? What dangers was I facing? I had a cushy computer job. Unlike my story characters, if my journey failed, I would be fine. Was I teaching my potential readers to do something that I was unwilling to do myself? Was I being the hero I was portraying in my story?
It seemed that two doors stood before me, one labeled hero and the other labeled hypocrite, and the reality of each choice was clear. Hero—quit my job, trust God, and face the risks associated with the passion-driven goal. Hypocrite—stay comfortable, stay safe, and fumble around writing stories that tell young readers to do something I am not willing to do myself.
I chose the hero door. On May 1, 2002, I chose to quit my job and trust God for everything. In order to make ends meet, we eventually had to sell our home and live in rental housing, but with my wife’s unfailing support, we endured, always trusting in God.
Within one year, a small publisher decided to take a chance on Dragons in our Midst and offered a contract for a four-novel series. The books became bestsellers, and our financial situation stabilized.
It took only a few weeks for emails to begin pouring in. Readers from across the country wrote to tell me how the story changed their lives, drawing them closer to God. Souls were being saved, and families were being healed. My efforts were making the eternal impact I had long hoped for.
The journey was dangerous. It was scary. We had to risk the well-being of everyone in our family. Yet, our courage never flagged. God was always there to give us hope and reassurance.
It has been twenty years since I stepped through that door. Not a single one of my computer programs remains in use, but I trust that eighty years from now, my readers will still bear the impact my stories made, and eight hundred years from now, souls in heaven will testify to how the stories helped them find salvation in Christ. That is lasting impact.
I will never regret going through the hero door. It appears to be foreboding, but not nearly as foreboding as the prospect of living a life that matters little more than bringing money home. I wanted to bring souls home, and for that opportunity I was willing to take a risk.
Categories: Thoughts from the Heart
Thank you for going through the hero door, I don’t know where my life would be if you hadn’t. The impact that your stories had on me and continue to have on me will last a life time, and they have helped me to do far more to be able to help further the kingdom of God.
My personal catch phrase is “Adventure awaits!” and I don’t think I would have such a strong sense of adventure were it not for your books. I read like it’s going out of style, and many of the stories I have read are wonderful, action packed journeys to the ends of the earth. But it wasn’t until I found your books that I realized that the best adventures are had in the presence of our beautiful, wild, Heavenly Father. I too thank you for choosing the hero door. Having the courage to step out into the unknown and follow where the Master led you has ignited a spark in me, as I’m certain it has for hundreds of others as well. Well done.
I bet you still made an impact on the people around you at your old job(sometimes we never realize how much the little things we do can influence people in a good way). But I am still glad you chose to be an author, God seems to have blessed your efforts and given you a great way to reach people :). It’s amazing to see how God’s plans are far more wonderful that anything we could have dreamed up at the beginning of our lives.
That’s some good stuff. Thank you for sharing this with us. I’ll remember this post when I hit a uncomfortable choice/crisis. Thank you for choosing the Hero Door.
This is pretty much what I’m going through right now. I love to read, write, edit, study language, anything to do with words, but my job in a grocery store drains that passion from me. Only in the past few days have I started learning to communicate with God and my family and friends to figure out how to take the steps towards that goal. So this post came in a timely manner as an encouragement for me. Thanks, Mr Davis 🙂
I’ve always loved your story, Mr. Davis. ^ ^ It’s really inspiring to me. I don’t feel like I got any big progress in my writing career until I decided to stop worrying so much about what people think and devote myself to the craft. As soon as I started doing that, I got an editing position for a website then months later I won the Believers Trust award and gained high interest from several publishers and an agent. I think sometimes we need to put all the chips in to win the biggest reward.
Indeed. Worrying about what others think is most often wasted energy.
Mr. Davis, I really wanted to tell you that your books have been inspirational to me. Your books, namely Dragons in our Midst, Oracles of Fire, and Children of the Bard, have inspired me to start writing, and not only write, but try to publish a book before I turn thirteen.
Well, today is my thirteenth birthday. My book, The Storm of Anger, hasn’t been released yet, but I sent my finished manuscript to a publisher in May, and they accepted it! My dad tells me that I already finished my part. The editing is just about done, and I hope that The Storm of Anger will be available in July.
I also wanted to tall you that I put you on the Acknowledgments page on my book for writing the books that really inspired me to write. So I thank you, Mr. Davis, for going through the hero door.
Thank you for the comment and for the honor of being placed on your acknowledgements page. That is a blessing.
You are very welcome and sorry for the late response!