1956 was an interesting year (other than the year of my birth). There were wars and rumors of wars, great music, movies, books, political campaigning, controversy involving Islamic control of various nations and trouble in the Middle East.
Woody Guthrie’s song “This Land is Your Land” was popular, Norman Vincent Peale’s book on The Power of Positive Thinking was still hot and medicine was closing in on a vaccine for polio that would significantly eradicate it worldwide.
But on this day, sixty years ago, five men camped on the bank of the Curaray River in Ecuador.
Two days earlier, Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming and Roger Youderian answered the call of God to bring the Gospel to the Huaorani people and flew a light plane into the jungle, landing it on a sandbar and setting up camp.
For several months they had dropped gifts for the Huaorani from flyovers, hoping to open a communication channel to them. The Huaorani were a small but violent tribe and the missionary crew was well aware of it.
On Sunday, January 8, 1956 the tribe attacked and killed the five missionaries with spears.
The long-term effect of the killing fueled renewed commitment to evangelistic missions and inspired generations to follow the call of God boldly. You can read about it in books like Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot and a more recent book titled End of the Spear by Steve Saint, son of Nate.
It is the most well known missionary story ever.
But today’s post is not about January 8, 1956. It is about January 5, 1956. Sixty years ago today.
While the five missionaries have been honored and used as inspiration for what happened three days later, on this day, those five men were right where God wanted them, in the center of his purpose for them. The “sweet spot” if you will, when you are doing what God wants you to do.
They had no idea what would happen on January 8, but that didn’t matter. God did, and they trusted and depended on him completely.
How do you know if you are doing what God wants you to do?
I have no greater insight into the answer than any other Christian. Very smart theologians and teachers have written books on how to know God’s will. You need to read them.
But from the perspective of someone who will turn 60 during this year and a Christian for over two-thirds of that time, here’s how I unpack this for authors and any others working to communicate Jesus Christ. There is a big responsibility for anyone in public view, especially when you can have influence over many people.
Here is what God desires of you today:
To love him with all your heart, mind and strength and also love your neighbor in the same way you would your own life. (In Matthew 22 among others)
Live each day characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Found in Galatians 5:22-23)
OK, I get that, how about specifically for writers and authors? This sounds like the same for every Christian. You obviously don’t realize that authors are a special group of people requiring special advice.
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind and not conformed to this world. (Romans 12:2)
When your mind is renewed you don’t worry about January 8 and can better discern the perfect will of God for you today.
Yes, I know, but get to point about authors Dan, for heaven sake I’m busy and I need tips on what to do next. I need specifics. Come on, lay it out for us. Will my book be published?
OK, here’s something specifically for Christian authors.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-19)
You are a sneaky agent you are. Got to admit I am a little disappointed in these answers.
January 8 might be the day an agent or even better, a publisher offers you a contract. It might be the day your manuscript is rejected for the umpteenth time and you decide to give up writing for good. It doesn’t matter.
That’s easy for you to say, Dan, you aren’t the one who worked for five years on a book.
What matters is living in the center of God’s will for you on Tuesday, January 5, 2016. His will for you is the same as for every other believer on the planet. It all comes from who you are in Christ, a new creature.
To repeat, when your mind is renewed, you don’t worry about January 8 and can better discern the good, acceptable and perfect will of God for you today.
January 8 will have it’s own challenges. We don’t need to know about them today. God knows about the future, he has gone before you and is waiting there for you.
Sixty years ago, five men trusted God, put their lives completely in his hands and we feel the impact of their lives to this day. I would guess any author would consider their lives well lived if the same was said about them, sixty years from now.
But even better when you hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
A footnote to this, in mid-2012, Steve Saint was injured in an accident, which left him partially paralyzed. If you want some inspiration for today, watch this video and see what happens at the 1:30 mark. It will be six minutes well spent.