I had to.
The only thing I can compare it to is holding your firstborn for the first time.
It’s not as significant as that. But it is almost as moving.
What comes close to cradling your own flesh and blood? Standing in a bookstore and seeing your literary firstborn on a shelf. That happened to me Thanksgiving week when I saw Grace-Focused Optimism in the Christian Living section of Macon, Georgia’s Barnes & Noble.
Praise, gratitude, satisfaction, awe, and wonder swelled in me like a river in a storm and burst out like Jett Rink’s gusher in the movie Giant.
And I wrote it because I had to.
I wasn’t compelled by external force. No one put a gun to my head and demanded, “Write!”
I was impelled by internal coaxing. Love was my muse, sweetly whispering, “Write!”
John Bunyan, the Puritan honored for his literary and theological masterpiece The Pilgrim’s Progress, once said that he “preached what he did feel, what he did smartingly feel.”
I wrote Grace-Focused Optimism because I did feel its truth. Indeed, I did smartingly feel it.
What Do You Mean By Grace?
U2’s song calls grace “a thought that changed the world.” But that depends. It depends on what you mean by “grace.”
Do you mean by grace the lethargic, impotent, common definition of “God giving us the opposite of what we deserve”? Then, I say without fear of contradiction, that thought will no more change you than a six-month-old will change his own diaper.
Or do you mean by grace the animating, potent, Biblical definition of “God’s determination, through Jesus, to get glory from you by being good to you all the time”? Then, I say without fear of contradiction, that thought will change you as radically as The Blue Fairy changed Pinocchio from a wooden puppet into a flesh and blood boy.
I know because this thought of grace as God’s everyday, all day long commitment to being good to me through Jesus is changing me.
First and fundamentally, it’s changing my attitude toward life. A congenital pessimist, for years I lived with a half-full glass outlook that made Charlie Brown look like Joel Osteen.
But now I’m increasingly such a glass half-full optimist that I make Joel Osteen look like Charlie Brown.
I’m optimistic because God is always up to my good. At least I’m this way when I stay focused on grace. So, grace has given me the Christian attitude toward life of Grace-Focused Optimism. And that attitude’s brought more changes into my life than colors in the rainbow.
The Christian attitude of Grace-Focused Optimism is helping me honor God more as I regularly experience His help and thank Him like the grateful leper did the Lord Jesus (Luke 17:15-16).
The Christian attitude of Grace-Focused Optimism is helping me enjoy God more with “more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound” (Psalm 4:7).
The Christian attitude of Grace-Focused Optimism is helping me obey God even when He gives me an “Abraham kill Isaac” difficult commandment (Genesis 22).
The Christian attitude of Grace-Focused Optimism is helping me find the Lord’s grace sufficient for my thorn in the flesh pains that aren’t going away until I go to glory (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
The Christian attitude of Grace-Focused Optimism is helping me resist temptation by feeling with Joseph, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9).
The Christian attitude of Grace-Focused Optimism is helping me to live a Barnabas-like lifestyle of serving others (Acts 4:36-37).
I’m optimistic because God is always up to my good. At least I’m this way when I stay focused on grace. So, grace has given me the Christian attitude toward life of Grace-Focused Optimism.
An Abundant Life
Am I perfect? Not even close.
But the caterpillar is metamorphosing into a butterfly. Simon is becoming Peter. The branch is beginning to bear fruit.
And, about to turn 71, I am a man who is beginning to understand what Jesus means by an “abundant life” (John 10:10).
Author Gordon Macdonald speaks of people who have a “call story.” A person with a call story is a person “overcome with a compelling message from heaven that redirects life into something purposeful.”
I‘m a man with a call story. Through God’s grace to me I am overcome with this message and purpose: God has put me here to exalt Him and encourage others by practicing and promoting Grace-Focused Optimism.
God is changing my life through Grace-Focused Optimism.
I believe I exalt Him by practicing Grace-Focused Optimism.
And I believe He wants me to promote Grace-Focused Optimism in others.
So I wrote the book.
I had to.