It’s been a big year for me – and I’m sure for many of you too. My fourth novel, 'Jenna', was released in August, I’ve spoken over thirty times in a variety of settings and sold my books in all sorts of places, plus been involved in the usual family, social and church activities. So now when I go to my computer to pick up my current writing project where I left off, sometimes my mind takes a while to tune in to the task at hand and be focused in the right direction. Before I begin to write for the day, I always try to sit quietly and acknowledge God’s presence, but one thing I’ve discovered that helps me in an ongoing way to remember I am not alone is to light a candle and place it on my desk. Often I can be typing away and stop to think for a while, perhaps stuck as to what to write next – and then I catch sight of that flame burning brightly nearby and am reminded again that God is with me, whatever difficulties I am encountering.
I have been given some beautiful candles over the years – too beautiful, I used to think, just to burn! However, this year I decided I would begin to use my special candles one after the other and remember the person who gave it to me, as I also remember God. In fact, one young friend gave me a wonderful, handmade candle recently that I just had to use straight away. The casing around this candle is made from the coloured soils of the Atacama Desert in Chile and has a special design cut into the sides, enabling even more of the light to glow through the shape of the design. I have other beautiful ones too, including a special delicately perfumed one called ‘Serenity’ made from soy wax and given to me by a dear friend at the launch of my fourth novel; a delightful little one in purple tones presented to me after speaking somewhere; and another from my daughter, featuring Australian gum leaves.
I am aware, however, that not everyone shares my love of candles – particularly some of the men in our family! That’s okay – everyone is different! But if you aren’t too averse to the idea and perhaps feel the need for a tangible reminder of God’s presence with you as you write, I’d encourage you to try it. As I gaze across now at my beautiful, glowing Chilean candle, I am remembering too Jesus’ words from John 8:12: ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ Jesus has promised he will be with us, showing us the way ahead through whatever ‘darkness’ we are facing, whether it be problems in our writing journey or in our lives in general. How privileged we are to have him walking beside us every step of the way!
But I am also remembering Jesus’ further challenge to us in Mark 5:13 that we ourselves are the ‘light of the world’. He goes on to say in the following verses: ‘A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.’ That’s the amazing privilege we have as Christian authors – to put our words out there, to use the gifts God has given us to the full and to seek to shine our ‘light’ as brilliantly as possible for God’s praise and glory.
Go on – go ahead and light your candle!
Jo-Anne Berthelsen writes contemporary general fiction and lives with her minister husband in Sydney, Australia. To learn more about Jo-Anne, please visit her website, www.jo-anneberthelsen.com.