Oceans

I was reading something today that used the image of the ocean to depict the journey of life. It struck a cord with me.

When we’re at the beach we typically wade into the shallow end, hover a little, or in my case a long time, before diving into deeper waters. My boys, Dan and Jake, are very quick to get into the deep – they’re confident swimmers and love the thrill of being at the mercy of such power and conquering it when they successfully ride a wave. Even being dumped is an exhilarating sensation: you had a go and the power of the surf gotcha this time. Oh well, let’s have another go and see who wins out. Riding a wave into the shoreline is a fantastic feeling being in unison with nature for a few seconds.

Ten years ago I ventured into the deep and thrashed around for a while, as I wrote my novel. I got tired of the battle and needing money, took the easy option to swum back into the shallows. And stayed there for almost five years whilst pining for the deep. Having made some great progress spiritually, in my relationships and with the manuscript, I retreated. I soon got sucked back into the whirlpool of work, my workaholic tendencies resumed and my heart retracted.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some real enjoyable moments, doing what you’re good at is fun and comforting, and working with some great people. But the ache of the deep wouldn’t leave me.

Soon the monotony of swimming laps along the shoreline became boring, moments of exhilaration of achievement were sparse. More significantly, my heart waned, no longer charged by the wonder of being terrified and elated simultaneously.

 

Circumstances were forced on me – thanks God.

I believe I’m now being called into the deep. To swim way out beyond anywhere I’ve ever swum. To follow my heart and, to trust.

Yes, I’m bound to take in water and maybe I’ll go close to drowning but it’s what I got to do. To satisfy my yearning. To fill my void.

To be obedient.

 

I take great comfort from God’s words to Joshua as he set out to take back the Promised Land. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)

How do you practice obedience? And what tips do you have for those moments when you’re taking in water, self-doubt and sheer panic set in? It’s too late to turn back; you’re in too deep.

 

The Void

I had attended a reunion of one of my previous employers. It’s been 20 years since I left this company, having worked there for the best part of ten. I really enjoyed my time there and still think back on those days with great fondness.

But it’s the few minutes I spent with the final person I caught up with that stayed with me for a long time after the event. This is someone who has made it – senior executive, leader, super income, lives in prominent street in prominent suburb, kids in private schools, spent time overseas with company, and the list goes on. To his credit he’s tremendously humble and gracious, not really taking any of this for granted. During our brief chat and ever since, I’ve sensed a “void” in his heart – it’s like he’s standing in a dream where he sees himself fully alive, happy, fully engaging with everyone around him. He feels trapped, he wants to grab a hold of this “other him”, the life he so wants to have, but he’s unable to take the place of the “other him”, the happy one. He wakes up from his dream, feeling frustrated, anxious almost, as another day starts, another one where he no doubt will achieve much and have a great impact on those around him: work colleagues, clients, family, and more.

 

VOID IN MY HEART

I stumbled across these lyrics from a John Mellencamp song, titled funnily enough, “Void in my Heart”. They express my colleague’s emptiness perfectly:

 

There`s a void in my heart
I can`t seem to fill.
Been a parent,had three children
And a big house on the hill.
Hundred dollar in my pocket
And it didn`t buy a thing.
Now there`s a void in my heart
And a hole in my dreams.

Well I poured miles of concrete
And strung wire for telephones,
Dug ditches whenI was a yound boy
When I first left my parents` home.
Sang my songs for millions of people,
Sang good and bad news,
Now there`s a void in my heart
And a fire at my fuse.

Well I did everything just like they said
So I could find happiness.
Went to school and got a college degree
And at my job I did my best.
As I sit here alone tonight
I see a billion just like me
With a void in their hearts and running from eternity.

There`s a void in my heart I can’t seem to fill.
I do charity work when I believe in the cause
But in my soul it bothers me still.
Hey, Lord, well you made me like I am.
Can You heal this restlessness?
Will there be a void in my heart
When they carry me out to rest?

 

Mellencamp describes it well. We all have experienced this feeling at some time in our lives: a hole in my heart and under-nourished relationships.

 

I think this malaise is very prevalent amongst men – Mellencamp puts a number to it, “a billion…” We’re fed the lie about career, achievement, getting stuff whether it’s possessions, sex, power, whatever. Even doing good “charity work”, as Mellencamp suggests, doesn’t fill the void. None of it fills the hole. Why has depression become so prevalent in society when we are the most affluent society to walk the earth? And it’s not just the have-nots that are suffering, it’s those who have enjoyed the fruits of our affluence.

 

I sense it in many men I meet.
As Mellencamp cries out in question – “Hey, Lord, well you made me like I am,” – is this it, or am I supposed to live the rest of my days with this restlessness?

 

I feel lucky because I’ve felt pursued, pursued by God. (More of that later). And I reckon He didn’t make us to live with this restlessness.

 

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus says in John 10:10b. So it’s pretty clear then in answer to Mellencamp’s cry – we weren’t created to live with a void.

 

So how do we fill it? How do have life to the full?

 

There’s lots I don’t know yet, but I’ve started out on the journey I should have commenced 30 years ago when I first met Jesus at 16. As a good friend said to me only today, he reckons his first 48 years were an apprenticeship and now life really starts. Well, that’s kinda how I feel too. I’m extremely grateful to be able to start out on this discovery.

 

I hope you will share it with me and I hope you stop by every so often, add your thoughts on your own situation as it’s likely many will be experiencing the same and I could sure do with the added encouragement too.

 

“Frantic”, Mike Dellosso

Fast and furious with powerful message!

There are many great elements to this thriller from Mike Dellosso.

1. It’s starts with a bang and never lets up.

2. Marny, the central character is easy to cheer on and you want him to escape his past and save the girl. Esther and William, the two who Marny elects to help, are two excellent characters as well.
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“Not a Fan”, Kyle Idleman

Been a fan too long, but no longer!

This book is powerful, challenging believers to follow in the footsteps of the disciples – be willing to give everything, and that means, everything, up in order to bear the fruits of a sold-out life to Jesus.

I’ve been a fan of Jesus for most of my life but graciously, God pulled me aside a couple of years and said, that’s not enough! He wanted more; He wanted all of me, not just bits of me Read more

“The Beginner’s Guide to the Gift of Prophecy”, Jack Deere

Reinforces the importance of seeking God first!

In this apostolic world we live in, it is so easy for us to seek the spectacular, to seek after the gifting, whether it be healing, prophecy or whatever.

All of these gifts are available to those of us who are born again in the Holy Spirit. Yes, some people will have more defined prophetic and healing ministries via a specific calling, however, we all have the gift, as Peter says in Acts 2 quoting Joel’s prophecy: Read more

“Story Engineering”, Larry Brooks

Glad I’ve read this before embarking on the sequel!

I was one of those novice writers that wrote my first manuscript using the organic drafting method rather than a well-defined plan that Larry Brooks encourages in this excellent guide to writing fiction.

I don’t regret doing that for one minute primarily because it both taught me a lot but also confirmed to me that I had a “story” that could be written. Yes, I’ve worked through 3 significant re-writes and a number of minor edits, having now probably written the best part of 1,000 pages for what will end up being a 350 page novel. Read more

“Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire”, Jim Cymbala

A call to get back to the basics: “Be Saturated in Prayer!”

There are so many good reviews on the site that I don’t need to go to any great length to add my thoughts on this very powerful book.

I was especially moved by the authors’ humility, acknowledgement of God’s awesomeness and the Holy Spirit’s desire to “to do only what He can do!” Read more

What Inspired Angelguard?

I get asked this a lot.

Now I’m writing this fully aware that most of you don’t know the story except for the blurb that you can find here.

Yes, it’s about the supernatural.

But no, it’s not another vampire, werewolf or extraterrestrial novel. And there is nothing wrong with those novels even though I don’t typically read them.

This is a novel where angels and demons feature as much as humans do. I believe both exist and have an influence in all of our lives.

Now I may have just lost a bunch of readers having read that last line but I hope the rest of you will read on.

I believe in the spiritual world that the Bible talks about.

Don’t worry this isn’t going to be a sermon but rather an outline as how the novel began.

2002 – a watershed year for me

If you haven’t already please have a read of my “About Me.” A lot happened in 2002 for me: went to DisneyWorld, woke with 2 words in my mind, left my job, started hanging out with Jesus again, and started writing what became Angelguard.

In a later post I’ll share more detail about the process I went through over the past ten years to get my first novel written, and accepted by a publisher.

On coming home from Florida I became increasingly unhappy in my job. As a result I started looking around for alternatives and engaged an executive coach to assist me. The 12 weeks I spent working with Brett were tremendous as they helped shape so many aspects of my life, not just career.

Through this process, my desire to be reacquainted in a church community grew strong, not to mention reconnecting with the Big Guy upstairs. But also, a desire that had laid dormant for the best part of 30 years, awakened.

I wrote a lot as a kid. I read a lot of novels too. I loved escaping into the fantasy both outlets took me too. Stories of good and evil featured prominently.

But one day, I can’t even remember when, I just stopped writing.

The Thin Veil

I met Jesus as a 15 year old and soon became interested in the spiritual domain, the one where angels and demons hung out. I didn’t understand it but was fascinated by the Old and New Testament stories of angels appearing.

My Bible knowledge was limited but it too was full of stories featuring good and bad guys and gals.

I read Frank Peretti’s “Darkness” series in the late 80s, early 90s. The two novels were a real eye-opener for me. Besides being great stories, they revealed the “thin veil” that exists between the natural and supernatural worlds. I love that expression: “thin veil”. Erin Healy, a wonderful suspense writer, was the one who introduced me to describing it like that.

Having devoured the two Peretti novels many times, I noted on my invisible Bucket List, a desire to write something where the natural and supernatural worlds collide.

Then I forgot about it, as life got messy.

Back to the Future

I woke that January morning in a Disneyworld hotel with those two words on my lips.

Two words that were also the first I typed when I set out to write my first novel.

“It’s time.”