I was surprised today by an interview question which revealed the motivation deep in my heart.
I was in Wexford to be interviewed on ‘Simply Divine’, Maria Colfer’s Saturday morning programme on South East Radio. She asked me why I do what I do, and I surprised myself by my answer.
Have you ever been in that position where you know something deep down inside you, but you discover that you’ve never put it into words, even to yourself? Usually when that happens to me, it’s because someone else’s words, often in a book, articulate what I’ve always known, but never expressed. But today when Maria asked me why I do what I do, it was my own words that surprised me. There are many responses which I could have given, all of them valid, and all of them supplying part of the picture, but this time I went back to the heart of the matter.
So why do I do what I do? Why do I sell Christian books?
I started by explaining that I was brought up in a home full of books, and so I was an avid reader from a young age. But my parents’ marriage was a mixed one, Catholic and Protestant. That was unacceptable in those days, not only to church, but to family and society. The result was that they felt unwelcome in their own churches. So I was brought up with almost no experience of churchgoing. While strong Christian values were passed on to me, God was never mentioned, and I didn’t know anything about even the rudiments of the Christian faith.
But that all changed when I went with a group of friends to a residential youth event. There my eyes were opened to what God had done in Christ for my salvation, and I made my own decision to follow Jesus. But to my surprise, on my return home. when I excitedly told my parents of this decision, it was met with dismay. My parents had been so hurt by Christians that they forbade me to go to church or to read the Bible.
What you may ask has this to do with me selling Christian books? You may think that my new found faith would not have survived long without any fellowship. But God had already set a plan in place. While I was at that youth event, and with my love of books, I had visited the Christian bookshop there. I had bought a number of books on the basics of the Christian faith, none of which I really remember. But what I do remember is a series of little books, twelve in all. Each page had a few Bible verses, a short devotional thought, and a prayer. There was a page for each day, so the twelve books made up a year’s supply. Those books sustained my faith and deepened my relationship with Jesus in those early years. To be honest, it took me two years to read my one year’s supply.
I am so grateful for those little books, and for the bookseller who recommended them to me.
Nowadays I would call those Devotional Books, and I sell a lot of books like that. Of course I’m not recommending that anyone withdraw from life as part of a community of Christians. But our own devotional times with God are also so important for strengthening our faith. Devotional books are a great tool for starting to develop our relationship with God, and they are also a great help when we go through tough times and find it hard to focus.