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Saving Eric: The birth of a novel

I'm still surprised when God answers prayer. Don't get me wrong. I've been a believer and practicing woman of faith for over forty years. I've seen God do some amazing things, and yes, even miracles, in answer to prayer. On the other hand, I've experienced times when God remained silent to my anguished cries.

My mouth will tell you that I believe God can do anything, but sometimes my heart counters, "But will He?"

At such times, I try to fall back on what I know to be true: That God is a good God who is also wise and all-knowing; That our God is sovereign, which is a fancy way of saying He is God and I am not; that He gets to call the shots.

It was out of these thoughts, feelings, and questions that my first novel Saving Eric was born. I wanted to illustrate that God's plan is sometimes bigger than what we can presently see, and that we can trust God to always do what is needed and right.

Through this character-driven novel, three basic truths about God come to light:

1. God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask or think. These words, taken from Ephesians 3:20, are the foundational truth behind Brock Whitfield's faith. Brock's faith is strong because it was forged in the crucible of deep failure, disappointment, and loss. He passes on what he has learned about trusting God to all the staff at the mission hospital he started in Angola.

2. God sometimes lets us be the answer to our own prayers. This is probably my favorite truth. Brock had prayed for Eric Templeton for years, but he never dreamed God would allow him to be part of the answer. What an exciting thought! God not only gives us the desires of our hearts, but He also lets us be part of the answer!

3. God uses broken people to help other broken people. We are all broken. That's why we need a savior. God is in the business of changing lives. Brock, Ellie, Eric, and Bob--all are broken and in need of God's truth and God's grace to turn their lives around.

These fictional characters struggle with things we all struggle with. Using Brock as spiritual mentor, I take the reader down the path of some of my own spiritual battles and questions. My goal was to portray God realistically and faithfully. He is a God who does not always answer the way we think He will or should, but His answer is always the best one. It's a hard lesson to learn, and one that must be relearned many times in one's life.

I wrote the book, tweaked, re-wrote, and tweaked some more, and after three long years, I doubted that I would ever get my book published.

So in 2014, I did the unthinkable. I gave God a deadline. Granted, I gave Him a year, but it was still a deadline. I asked for two specific requests. Big requests. Not the generic, "God bless my children and keep them safe." (Nothing wrong with that either)

I prayed on January 1, 2014 for God to come through and answer the two requests I had been praying for three years. I committed to prayer that 2014 be the year both requests would be answered. At every prayer meeting, everybody knew my hand would go up, and I would mention two unspoken prayer requests.

Did I ask in faith? You bet. Did I really believe the requests would be answered? Sort of.

In September, fully nine months after asking that original prayer, I was thrilled beyond words to finally have a contract for my novel to get published! Check off first request!

I'll tell more about the second request after the photo!

The second request was more of a challenge. Okay, I'll go ahead and tell you, I prayed for God to let my son find a good, godly wife. I still had hope, but I had already decided to let God off the hook in case it wasn't His timing or His will. (Like He needed for me to let Him off the hook)

The answer came on Christmas Eve. My son visited and announced that he had met a girl, a special girl, who just might be "the one." Unfortunately, like Rhoda who refused to believe Peter was actually out of prison and knocking on the door, I responded with "You're kidding."

How's that for faith?

I'm thankful God answers even weak faith! My novel was published on February 14, 2015, and I like to think of it as God's Valentine to me. My son was married in October of 2015, probably not just because of my prayers, but because God is so good!

Let me sum it all up. God is real. God is good. God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask or think. Our God loves us and delights to show Himself strong on our behalf.

But His ways are not our ways. Sometimes He says, "No." Sometimes He says, "Wait." Sometimes He is silent, and at such times, we must do as the song says, "When we can't trace His hand, we trust His heart."

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