The Author Who Entered His Own Story

Like any novelist, I conjure the characters in my stories out of my own imagination. I decide what they will look like, how they will talk, and which talents and abilities each one will possess. In the case of my fantasy novel, Kiriath’s Quest,I even invented the world in which my characters live. But no human author can finish his manuscript and then “beam down” into his story to live inside it and talk among those characters he created.

God is an author, too, but He’s definitely not limited in the way human authors are limited. Out of His imagination, and for His own good pleasure, God imagined what we call “the universe,” and He created it! He further imagined inhabitants called men and women, who would have physical natures (bodies), and would also have non-physical natures (souls). It pleased God to manifest Himself to the first humans (Adam and Eve) and to fellowship with His created beings.

But there came a time when the first two humans decided to distrust God. They wanted to be like Him, to decide  good and bad, and to ignore His one prohibition and to eat the forbidden fruit. After their disobedience, their physical bodies looked the same, but they had corrupted their own souls. They lost the perfect communion they once had with their Creator.

But God—the Author of Creation—didn’t shred His manuscript. In order redeem and restore part of mankind, God did the unimaginable plot twist: He manifested a portion of Himself to “beam down”—to be born of a virgin (the first Christmas) and to grow physically and to walk and talk inside His creation as part of it. What a mind-blowing idea! This is why the angel who explained events to Joseph, Mary’s husband to be, told him the child would be called Immanuel, meaning “God with us” (Matthew 1).

While living on earth in human form, God (named Jesus in this form) taught people spiritual Truth and healed their afflictions. But more importantly, He lived a sinless life, and then permitted flawed and sinful soldiers to capture Him and nail Him to a cross for execution. (Just imagine—an author being murdered when the violent characters in his story rise up against him? Whoa!) In this way, God Himself—in the person of Jesus—voluntarily took on Himself the punishment for the sins of the human race. But humans can’t defeat God. Jesus rose from the dead. Ever since, any person who wants to be reconciled with God and to rejoin His family can do so. “…Whoever believes in him [Jesus Christ] may have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Believing in God is good, but that’s not enough. Do you believe and accept Christ’s sacrifice on your behalf? “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18).

This Christmas, I wish all of you a wonderful, festive time with friends and family. But don’t let the whole purpose of Christmas slip by without recognizing its importance: our Creator did what no human could so that you and I could have cleansing from sin and rejoin His family forever. If you’ve never prayed and accepted Christ as Savior, let this be the year you do!

 

 

Who Needs Me?

img_7857While reading a book of inspirational thoughts, I came across a section titled “Wants and Needs.” After drawing a distinction between what we humans want and what we need (particularly from God’s perfect perspective), the author explores the idea of relationships as they apply to needs:

“It isn’t always easy to accept that someone in our life is the exact person we need in our life to help us learn, grow, and develop into what God planned for us in the first place.”*

A few moments of thought persuaded me that this has proven true in my life in various ways… A college roommate with grating habits that taught me patience. A past coworker who (unwittingly) challenged me to upgrade my ability to overlook offenses and forgive as Christ forgave. Mature believers who modeled excellent qualities I didn’t yet have… You get the idea: God can and does use other humans to mold us into better people even when those “needed ones” don’t realize He’s using them.

But then I pondered further: If it’s true we need others to improve, conversely there must be people out there who need me (despite my shortcomings and the fact that I remain a work in progress). Who needs me? In what ways do they need me? And am I meeting their needs as God intends? Or am I so absorbed with my own problems and agenda that I’m failing those who need me?

A bit of reflection reveals a few way each of us could meet others’ needs:

  • I can smile. Is there someone who simply needs a tiny uplift?
  • I can listen. Is someone burdened with a weight they need to share, in person, or by phone, or by email?
  • I have knowledge. Does somebody need information I carry in my head?
  • I have abilities. Could someone be in need of my skills?
  • I can pray. Although I’m too limited to pray for all the world’s needs, God has put me in contact with specific people. Some have problems only God can solve. Am I being a friend and upholding them in prayer?

Of course, there are other ways to meet needs. Americans tend to throw money at problems (and sometimes that’s valid). But better solutions might involve donating time and self, in short, caring enough to be involved.

So, Lord, which people in my life need me, despite my imperfections? The closer the friend, the more likely You put here to help. Here am I. Send me.

it-is-well*It Is Well with My Soul, by Judi Robinson, copyright 2016, p. 57 (https://www.createspace.com/6510186)

Radio Interview with Author Rick Barry

Triumphant LivingI enjoyed being interviewed for radio by Beth Stewart of Triumphant Living Ministries. We discussed my inspirational World War 2 novel The Methuselah Project, writing, and Christian living.

You missed the interview? You can still hear or download it using the link below. Blessings to you!

http://bethstewartministries.libsyn.com/interview-with-rick-barry-the-methuselah-project

 

 

God Wants to Edit You

error

What does a good author do to make a manuscript worth publishing? Easy—that first draft must undergo a thorough editing. Fluff needs to be cut. The characters need deepening lest they remain cardboard cutouts. The author adds colorful details, vivid verbs, inspirational dialogue… Of course, errors in spelling and punctuation must go.

Imagine how horrible the literary world would be if all authors typed “The End” onto their first draft, declared it “good enough,” then published it without revisions. Scary notion, isn’t it?

Yet, just as each manuscript needs polishing to make the story shine, so do you. Bluntly, the Lord wants to edit you and me. Jesus is “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). If you’re one of our Author’s characters, He loves you more than any earthly author loves his novel. But that love doesn’t mean He wants you to remain a rough draft of your potential.

When a novelist sizes up his creation and cuts out paragraphs, scenes, or chapters, that doesn’t mean he hates his creation and wants to punish it. The writer is eliminating the dross to leave only gold. God does likewise. With loving care, He works to remove the vices and to polish our rough spots. Often a human author puts his hero through horrific events. So does God with us, but not just for fun or excitement.  When He chastises His children or allows troubles, just like the conscientious writer, He desires to improve us. Troubles have a way of refining people. They cause us to re-evaluate our priorities and cut out bad elements while driving us back to God.

However, imagine a scenario in which an author labors for hours to prune sloppy lines from a story, only to have the characters reinsert those shoddy portions when the author looks away. How exasperating that would be! Fictional characters can’t do that, of course. But humans can. God works to edit from our lives the pride, dishonesty, disobedience, lust, anger, vengeance, and other vices that mar us. Certainly it must grieve Him when we reinsert the junk into our lives.

In the story of your life, do you resist God’s editing? Do you fight to remain a rough draft? Or do you submit to God’s editing and polishing so you can shine like the Son?

 

“My Name Is Pride”

Don’t you just love it when someone creates a fresh way to deliver a timeless message? That’s what Beth Moore does in the following poem. Instead of simply stating, “Beware of pride,” she endows pride with personality. She lets it speak to the soul willing to listen. What would pride say to you? Take 60 seconds to read the answer, but continue to ponder the message.

 

“My Name is Pride”

by Beth Moore

My name is Pride. I am a cheater.
I cheat you of your God-given destiny…
    because you demand your own way.
I cheat you of contentment…
    because you “deserve better than this.”
I cheat you of knowledge…
    because you already know it all.
I cheat you of healing…
    because you are too full of you to forgive.
I cheat you of holiness…
    because you refuse to admit when you are wrong.
I cheat you of vision…
    because you’d rather look in the mirror than out a window.
I cheat you of genuine friendship…
    because nobody’s going to know the real you.
I cheat you of love…
    because real romance demands sacrifice.
I cheat you of greatness in heaven…
    because you refuse to wash another’s feet on earth.
I cheat you of God’s glory…
    because I convinced you to seek your own.
My name is Pride. I am a cheater.
    You like me because you think I’m always looking out for you.
Untrue.
I’m looking to make a fool of you.
    God has so much for you, I admit, but don’t worry…
If you stick with me you’ll never know.