Gold Medallion Finalist: Reflections on a Book and a Journey

A few weeks ago I received word from my friend Steve Barclift, managing editor for Kregel Publications, that a book I had edited was one of five finalists in its category for an ECPA Gold Medallion.

The reason I didn't rub my eyes when I read Steve's email is because, really, who does that? Inside, though, I was, like, "Whaaa? Did I read that right or do I got dirt in my peepers?" The Gold Medallion is a tremendous honor in evangelical publishing, and even though a different book was chosen for the award on May 2, just making it to the finalists' circle is a huge deal.

My surprise had nothing to do with the book's merits, which are considerable. Messed Up Men of the Bible: Seeing the Men in Your Life Through God's Eyes has struck a fortissimo chord with female readers who want to better understand and support the imperfect men whom they love and who love them. The coauthors, Tina and David Samples, speak to relational issues between men and women in a unique way by bringing to life the Bible's colorfully flawed males. It's encouraging for a messed-up guy like me to know that I'm in such good company as Moses and David and Peter.

The Bible doesn't gloss over people's sins. Its villains are villains for obvious reasons, its heroes reach for a nobility that rises above their often serious weaknesses, and the stories of those heroes are written with the ink not of human perfections but of God's mercy and grace. David and Tina make all of that plain and show how it relates to our own lives. Their book is superb.

Still—me the editor of a Gold Medallion finalist? Pinch me, I'm dreaming.

But then, why not me?

Because, after all, God.

Because how like my heavenly Father to take a messed-up son who has wrestled all his life with self-doubt and the fear of failure, and to encourage that son, and to bless him through the years with people like Steve who saw something good in him and opened doors that changed his life. Because how like God to give a Gideon like me hope, and incremental success, and a sense of personal ability, and to cause me to grow in a profession that, in the past, I never imagined for myself.

Not that it happened by accident. I have faced my fears and forged through them, simply because my only other choice was to curl up and die. I have studied hard and worked hard, and I have sacrificed and persevered, and I continue to learn, and I do my utmost to serve my authors well. But beyond those things, I have the sense that there is much that happens behind the scenes that I just don't see. In the broad sweep of life I'm still pretty dumb, and all I'm really doing is walking through doors, barely aware of their implications, hardly cognizant of how my doing so catalyzes latent realities, causing seeds to germinate into green shoots which, over time, become strong, fruiting plants. Faith involves a process over which my Father presides unseen, as he did at the world's creation, bringing order and blessing to chaos.

Five years ago, with fear and trembling, I hung out my shingle as an editor, and my first book was something I still feel proud of. Since then I have edited scores of books for publishers and independent authors. I am grateful to all of my clients—to you if you're among them. I am thankful that you entrusted your creation to me. Now to think that two of you have been cocandidates for a Gold Medallion . . . wow!

Congratulations, Tina and Dave, for writing a great book. It, and you, deserved such recognition, and I am pleased to have served you as your editor. It's not about awards, is it. It's about women and men learning how to love each other better, and about seeing each other through the eyes of Jesus, and about God's kingdom ruling more fully in our hearts.

One Small Stone: The Impact of a Solitary Vocation

I spend much of my day in front of a computer, helping authors refine their writing so the words will speak to readers with clarity and effect. Editing is largely a solitary profession, and it's one I'm well-suited for as an introverted personality. But sometimes it strikes me how alone I am. This morning, though, as I once again sit staring at the screen in solitude, the Lord reminds me that I am having an influence on many lives. I work with some wonderful authors whose books truly live up to the description "life-changing" for countless readers. Here in the quiet, as the early sun streams through the window on this first day of autumn, Jesus reassures me that the way he has designed me has a purpose, and my gift is having an impact for his kingdom. In helping authors fulfill their calling, I fulfill an important part of my own. And that is a joy and a great honor. Our lives are no small thing. A single pebble creates many ripples in the lake, and our tiny splash which only God can see may be felt by many.