I’m sitting in a marketing meeting on Zoom, trying hard to listen. The subject is the oddest project I’ve ever tackled, especially when it comes to convincing fellow Christians to join me on the journey.
In short, I wrote a 1920s mystery novel and, in a few months, in October, it’s set to be released to the world. My struggle, meantime, is explaining why I wrote it — and why godly folks should read it.
Crime writing? Especially when such writing can look dangerous, scary, and maybe even ungodly?
The women on the Zoom call, however, don’t look fearful or worried. Instead, they look excited. Like me, they love Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, and other mystery heavy hitters. They understand, therefore, that a good mystery looks at our broken places but, in the end, points us to redemption.
So, God is in this, they argue. Therefore, reach out to people. Tell them about it. Connect with folks. Let them know what you’ve written and why. It seems like a reasonable plan for any ministry — traditional or out of the box: just connect.
Praying about it, however, the Lord invited me to first take a deeper step. Connect with Me, He says. Then everything else you’re scrambling for will get found.
Another way to say that is “seek God first,” as we know from the beloved wisdom of Matthew 6:33. Seeking God and His righteousness — especially when we’re scrambling — is the only good way to find our paths and to find Him.
But sometimes, when we’re trying to draw friends to a project or a stance we believe in, we can miss the mark by making it about ourselves — yelling loudly, pointing to our accomplishments, trying to reach more people, doing more for the sake of “connection.”
But God simply invites us to Him, to His presence, and to every beautiful gift that comes along with Him: mercy and grace, goodness and compassion, healing and help, joy and love, counsel and guidance, authentic transparency and truth. Yes, to His agenda.
His desire? First, to transform us and make us more like Christ. Such change requires remaining in the Lord. Stay and abide with Me. As He says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Sitting in the Zoom meeting, I hear that loud and clear. The marketing people are saying the same thing: Connect to people, but do it as Jesus did — by first loving others and living as He did.
So, how did Jesus live? By seeking after His Father.
Listening to those marketing folks, I finally hear their ministry truth. It’s only in God that we find the assurance and confidence to offer our broken but creative selves to the world.
It’s in Him that we learn the true ways of real connection, not to make transactions — or to pitch our mysteries or ministries — but to walk together on this puzzling road of life.
It’s in Him that we find the courage to try.
It’s in Him that, when we fall — and we will — we find the strength to get back up and the courage to try again.
Sure, I’m praying that you’ll read my mystery book, but along the way, I hope we keep joining each other in seeking Him. He’s our every answer, our greatest connection. In that, there’s never a mystery.