“The Powerful Pilgrimage of a Suffering Saint”
After concluding the individual Beatitudes chapters and exploring their powerful promises, bountiful blessings, and the heart sacrifice necessary to truly experience each one, I sensed the Lord wanted still more in this book. And, lo, the He sparked another inspiration. Why not depict someone actually experience the Beatitudes in real life situations and view their impact on that individual’s life? Such an approach would definitely illustrate “the rest of the story”, as Paul Harvey used to say.
So, the first big question was “plot”! Around what type of character should the story revolve and how would the Beatitudes rescue that person from their circumstances of life? The novel could also serve as a vehicle to reinforce different messages presented within the book. These conceptual ideas were challenging—how to bring it all together? This task seemed to exceed my writing skills, yet I committed to see it through. The novel evolved into one of the most enjoyable experiences in writing the book!
The central character had to be created—his name, personality, life, and level of spirituality, key factors around which the story would evolve. The names of two favorite individuals came to mind—“Wesley”, the name of a treasured friend and our family physician while in Paraguay, persisted in my consciousness. Then, “Baker”, the last name of an outstanding and well respected student in one of my upper level Spanish classes broke through.
“Wesley Baker” would be “the man”, but who would he be? Wesley turned out to be a young, very career minded, health care administrator who had drifted from the Lord over the years, and had also undergone a devastating life tragedy. He had a long way to go and the Beatitudes would have to work miracles in his life.
The novel begins with an introspective and vulnerable moment for Wesley during his routine attendance at a Sunday morning church service. Suddenly he became aware of his urgent spiritual need! As God attempted to grab his attention, would Wesley seize this moment and let it make a difference in his life?
Wesley does take up the Beatitudes Quest. The reader is also challenged between every word and line to follow Wesley’s example and encounter that same consuming fire and spiritual exhilaration within each Beatitude, just as does Wesley. With each partial surrender of his heart to God Wesley discovers exactly “where” the Lord wants to transport him in his spiritual journey to become a powerful instrument for Him.
One morning, as I sat down to write about Wesley’s collision with the Third Beatitude and lesson of “meekness”—the Mirrored Mountains of Meekness rose up in my mind as God illuminated the challenge for Wesley to make the summit to “submit” and let Jesus become fully visible in him. Here’s a brief excerpt from Wes’s mountaintop experience:
“This is what meekness means, my brother,” Jesus continued, “Meekness is all about going on, and that’s what you’re about to do for me. You are going to negotiate this slippery, mirrored mountain to its summit. This exercise will be a doubly difficult because you will see your reflection with each step. Self will be constantly looking back at you, demanding your attention and revealing your every emotion and reaction. And when you reach the summit, your reflection will change. Instead of your face, you will begin to see mine.”
Wes was puzzled, but more than ready to begin the climb. Seeing his face at every step and turn was an uncomfortable experience, and the mountain was steeper than it had appeared below. His reflection showed his mounting fear. “My me is too big, because that’s all I’m seeing,” he thought. “Where’s Jesus in me? I don’t see him at all!”
At that precise moment, he noticed a slight flicker in the glass. A verse came to mind. “Now we see through a glass darkly . . .” That was certainly what he was experiencing, just a dark glass with his own anxious face peering back.
The glass glimmered again, and Wes saw gentle eyes gazing lovingly back at him as he clung to the mountain face. He couldn’t look down—it was too frightening and paralyzing, but he couldn’t stop climbing—he was only halfway up.
To reach the summit, he knew his mind had to be absolutely on Christ. Only Christ could control each careful movement upward. And with each supreme effort, both physical and mental, Jesus’ face became more evident, giving to Wes the strength and determination to make it to the top. Fear was gone, replaced by the sole desire to let Christ become as much of him as possible. With one last push, Wes made it! And the face of Christ was no longer a reflection but a reality, as Jesus stood there smiling down at him. Wes joyfully thought of the rest of the verse—“then we shall see him face to face, in total light.”
“My Lord and my God!” Wes exclaimed, kneeling at his Savior’s feet.
“Yes, Wesley. I came to save you, which is as far as many of my followers ever decide to travel with me,” Jesus said. “I died to also be their Lord, to bring them into the fullness of themselves. Yet they are unwilling to make the hard climb against “self” that you just experienced. You now know the limiting factor of self, and you have crossed this barrier that Satan employs so insidiously among my people.”
Writing the novel portion of the book was adventurous and somewhat nerve wracking at times, when I had no idea how to keep the plot moving forward. But in those early morning hours, God poured forth new ideas providing new twists, turns and unexpected intersections to reconcile the plot.
In the end Wesley is totally remade: in his priorities of life, commitment to Christ, and interaction in the lives of all around him. Wesley’s story will continue in future books. He will be used in ways never imagined and the lives he touched will become great instruments for the Lord as well. I’m excited to be the “storyteller”, even though I do not even know all “the story” yet!
The novel underscores the bottom line message of the Beatitudes—to bring you even closer to God and become an extremely effective instrument for Him in this world!
Go for it—and be a Wesley Baker!