Please welcome this weeks guest Wade Webster for The Journey. He answers the question: How have you seen God work in your writing journey?
A JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND STORIES BEGINS WITH A…
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
So, how does a guy whose primary source of income is derived from driving trucks become a writer? Four years ago this month such a voyage began for this writer for Jesus. Understand that I didn’t own a computer or have an email address at the time. I was gleefully going through my life avoiding technology at all cost. What was God thinking?
He knew my heart and how I longed to be used by Him to reach people for His Kingdom. Four years ago the pieces fell into place for Him to reveal His calling for me. The long version of this journey is detailed in my blog (Yeah, that’s how deep I am into this new passion in my life.) http://www.wadewebsterwrites.com. I’ll condense it for y’all here (I got transplanted to Texas along the way).
I grew up on a small family farm in Michigan. Let me clarify something first: the farm was small, not the family. I was the middle child of seven offspring of Marvin and Joan Webster (They took those “Be fruitful and multiply” verses seriously). Mom shares how Dad told her he didn’t want to make a lot of money farming, he just wanted to make enough to get by. With that as his guideline, he was very successful. There was always food on the table, but that old farmhouse, heated only with wood, was extremely cold during those long winter months.
Mom was the spiritual stronghold in the family. Dad had a repeated prayer that called the Creator to condemn things (I’m sick of hearing it, and most of you don’t want me to quote it). I, fortunately, was drawn to this Jesus my Mom loved. I was at church often, I even walked the half mile to go to the local church we didn’t attend to go to their vacation Bible school one year.
I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to do with my life after I graduated high school. When my youngest sister, Lora, looked into Grace Bible College in Wyoming, Michigan (No, that’s not a misprint, Wyoming is a suburb of Grand Rapids) I tagged along and decided to see if I could find God’s will for me while I was there (Don’t worry. We weren’t that far apart in age, nine years separated the oldest from the youngest).
Preaching was the most obvious choice at first, but my delivery was EXTREMELY monotone at that time (I was allowed to preach a couple of times at the small country church we attended). So, I dabbled in counseling, teaching… no music ability so that was out. The college was so small it didn’t offer any writing courses. During the middle of my third year I did marry that cute red-head that caught my eye. But, I didn’t feel a desire to complete my four year degree. While I wrestled with that I heard that still small voice: “Don’t worry, I know your heart. Just live for Me. I’ll let you know when I’m ready to use you.”
One day one of the guys from the soccer team “accidentally” knocked on our apartment door looking for someone else. He had just gotten a summer job delivering shingles for a company run by one of the members of the college’s board. When he saw me he remembered they were looking for another driver. Next thing I know I’m driving a pick-up, then a full-grown truck delivering freight. That experience came in handy in all the moves we felt called to take in following the Spirit’s leading. Following the promptings of a sermon I heard as a teenager on Colossians 3:23, I treated each job as though Jesus Christ, Himself, had asked me to do them.
Fast-forward a couple of decades to the July 4th weekend, 2008. The local Christian radio station I listen to broadcasted a message John MacArthur presented on his book THE TALE OF TWO SONS. In it the two parables in the beginning of Luke 15 were presented before the Prodigal Son tale. After John explained the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin parables he gave a statement that hit me right between the eyes and stuck. “Nothing sets God off in a spirit of celebration as when a lost soul comes to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.”
I politely listened to the rest of the message to see if there would be any other quakes in my heart. There weren’t. After the message ended I turned the radio off. Tears came to my eyes as I sent up the deepest prayer ever. I’m sure the Holy Spirit was groaning within me. I repeated six words: “Break me. Break me. Use me.” I didn’t keep track of how many times I said it. It could have been a half dozen. I closed my petition with a sincere: “Father God I want to give You the reputation of being a Party Animal!”
I had no idea how, or if, God would answer a prayer like that. But, I knew I would never be the same. You don’t simply shrug something like that off and go on with your life, at least I didn’t. At that same time I was hearing some things on the radio in the trucks I drove that made me say: “I wish somebody had explained it to me like that when I was a teenager.” These were the why answers of the things we were told to do as good Christians.
I started thinking maybe this would make a good sermon. Only problem with that was I was going to a church where the attendance more than doubled the population of my hometown. From out of nowhere came that familiar still small voice: “It’s not a sermon. It’s a book.”
The excuses started immediately: “But, I’ve never written anything. I’ve never even taken a class on writing…” Then I remembered Moses at the burning bush. God had a comeback for each of his excuses. My mind quickly settled into: “Okay, God. If You’re in this I’ll give it a go.”
On the last Saturday in July I was in the laundry room of our apartment complex writing an outline of the main characters and beginning scenes of UNCLE RAY’S SUMMER. The following weekend I found all the college-lined notebook paper we had and started writing the story with a pencil. Not having a computer was only an excuse. Remember?
Knowing what I know now about writing this is good work. I started en media res; poor Billy is being pushed in the snow by Bad Brad and his gang. Billy’s Mom is offered a chance to finish her degree, but she needs to find someone to take care of Billy for the summer. And Uncle Ray is walking out of the doctor’s office with a diagnosis of six to twelve months to live. Can anybody say “real life” here?
Back story is woven in beautifully. I’m having a blast introducing various characters. I even had a dream about Uncle Ray and Billy on a road trip that’s quite embarrassing for Ray, and very funny. I woke up in the middle of the night laughing. Is God good or what?
The emotion is over the top. I can make myself laugh or cry by playing out scenes that are yet to be written. Yeah, I haven’t finished it, yet. I have over three hundred pages written out in long-hand waiting for my return from other assignments God has given me to complete first. But I’ll save those stories for future posts here.
Thanks, Kristena, for allowing me to share this leg of my journey with your readers. I pray I never forget my humble beginnings and my distinct call from the Creator of the universe to write for Him. I also pray others are encouraged and enriched by seeing God at work in my life.
I hope y’all caught how I delighted in the Lord with my life and He gave me this desire to write. No, desire is too weak of a word. Passion is more the level I’m talking about.
PS I’ll be stuck in a truck all day away from any computers, so I won’t be able to reply to your comments until this evening. But please comment to blogs. Comments are like saying “Amen” during a sermon; and like my pastor likes to say, “Saying ‘Amen’ during a sermon is like saying ‘sick em’ to a guard dog. It just gets them going.”
Wade lives in Plano, Texas with his lovely wife, Barb. She’s put up with him for over a quarter of a century now. He’s had six articles published in the Dallas Christian Family Magazine in the past year. And, according to the tagline on his blog, he’s a future bestselling author… if he can survive DFW metroplex traffic in a big-rig.
To be able to follow Wade and his writing journey, here is his social media information:
FB Author page: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorWadeWebster