By Jeannie McPherson, Emoon author
Have you heard the story about St. Peter closing certain doors in heaven, at least those labeled” missed opportunities”? It seems the new resident to heaven did not pay much attention to the earthly nudges God was sending his way.
I’ve heard many St. Peter jokes, but this one touched my heart when it was shared in church. My pastor asked, “How many doors has God opened and how often have you turned away due to excuses like time, resources, or skill?” Previous to this sermon, I gave momentary thought to offering to be a lay servant in an effort to give Pastor a long-needed break. It likely was not just a coincidence in timing.
Was God nudging me, yet again?
I casually acknowledged my willingness to the pastor, thinking he really would not take me up on the idea. And, for Pete’s sake, he did. What I discovered is writing a sermon is like writing a good story. And, I see myself as a good story writer.
The Christmas following 9/11, I included a short story in my holiday cards about Olivia, a dove, who kept watch over the manger the night of Jesus’ birth. She represented the peace that only Jesus can bring to us individually and globally. It was written with the plea, “peace begins with me.”
The comments from friends were positive. The next Christmas I wrote another story, different animal, different characteristic. Eventually a pattern emerged and I began intertwining the animal characters with one of the Fruits of the Spirit. My real horse, Charlie, a very big horse, is also called a Gentle Giant (English Shire). He represents gentleness. Max and Maggie, Labrador dogs, were faithful until their call to eternity. Eventually I had nine stories written about nine animals and nine fruits found in Galatians 5:22.
Periodically, I would feel a nudge to compile a child’s book with illustrations. I considered self-publishing, but ran into roadblock after roadblock finding an illustrator. The nudge grew stronger when I began attending Christian Writer’s Conferences, where I met Electric Moon Publishing.
Even during life stressors, the staff have been there to encourage, give me hope, andwait patiently (one of the short story titles) until I was financially and emotionally ready to put one foot in front of the other. Even though I had been warned by other authors, I became bent out of shape by the editing process and have come to believe it is an expectation in the publishing world.
I’ve given this project over to the Lord to do something good with it. He owns it. I am only the messenger. This means letting Emoon take leadership when I could not. If all goes well, I will contribute at least half of the order to churches in high-poverty areas, where few children own even one book. The remaining first publish run will also be used to serve Jesus, in programs like Samaritan’s Purses’ Operation Christmas Child. Though only published in English, the illustrations can be understood in multiple languages.
I don’t know what other earthly “opportunity” doors will open, but Luke 11:9 “….knock and the door will be opened to you” (NIV) is my guide. From the Sunday I heard the St. Peter story, I made a vow there will be few missed-opportunity doors when I enter heaven. Instead of looking at a project as work, I try really hard to look at it as a blessing
The title is still a mystery, even to myself. If any ideas, please give a shout-out!!!