I’ve been looking forward to having a few days at home during the Christmas holiday so I could put in some serious writing time. I had an assignment to produce 25 daily devotional entries for The Journey, the publication from the Bible Reading Fellowship. I finished those up and mailed them in. Those are scheduled for publication in 2015.
I also wanted to concentrate on a manuscript I’ve been working on that will be my first book-length effort (not just a collection of short pieces). For a number of years I’ve puzzled over how to understand and define “faith” as it is spoken of in the Bible. There’s plenty of other books out there on the subject, by well-known teachers, of course. But I had a question that I couldn’t remember anyone answering for me in all these years. Over and over, Jesus made comments about the faith in the people he met. “You have great faith!” “Why is your faith so weak??” etc. etc. What in the world was it that Jesus saw that enabled him to make those instant evaluations? Is it just because he’s God and knows everything? Or was there something that could be seen through human eyes that gave him a clue?
I’m several chapters in on my study. I’m not yet sure exactly how big this book will turn out to be, but it’s cutting into my sleep! The Lord has been waking me up in the middle of the night to teach me some things as I fire up my computer and keep writing.
One question related to this project was, what should the book cover look like? I had finally gotten a working title but I wasn’t getting any clear image in my mind of what the cover artwork should be. This was nagging at me and making me hesitate about pushing ahead with the manuscript.
Melanie is pretty good with pencil sketches (she illustrated her own book!). I tried some brainstorming with her. I’m approaching my subject as a sort of mystery to be solved, so I wondered if a picture of Jesus holding a detective’s magnifying glass would be good? Melanie soon came back with a sketch based on the famous pictures of Jesus standing at a door, knocking, only she drew him holding up a magnifying glass as if examining the door.
We also did a quick web search for pictures of Jesus in different poses. There are lots of sentimental images out there but none of them clicked for me. I put Melanie’s drawing down by the computer and turned to another project.
But the question about what to do for a cover kept coming back into my thoughts. Plenty of discussions among writers and publishers emphasize that a book cover must do a good job of communicating what the book itself is going to be like. Readers really do make a quick judgement by the cover! I suspected that until I knew what that cover was going to look like, I would continue to wrestle with the shape of what I was writing for the inside.
I did another search for images of Jesus on the internet, this time limiting the search to Christian icons. Almost immediately the image of the famous Pantocrator icon came into view. The name comes from a term John used nine times in The Book of Revelation. The oldest version of the image is at St. Catherine’s monastery in the Sinai and a partial image survives at the Hagia Sophia in Instanbul. It remains the most common icon to be placed in Eastern Orthodox churches today.
In the image, Jesus holds a Bible in his left hand and holds up his right hand with the fingers echoing the shapes of the Greek letters representing a Christogram of his name.
I looked at those fingers and saw them, instead, holding a magnifying glass.
I immediately went to work creating a version of the image with Jesus holding up the magnifying glass in front of his eye and looking at me.
I already feel eager to return to work finishing up my manuscript. I’m excited at what I have learned watching Detective Jesus as he solved The Mystery of Faith that had me puzzled. I expect to be able to share my effort early in the new year. Stay tuned!