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