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From the time I was a teenager, I always had this feeling like I was destined to “do something special.” I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but I always felt I was going to accomplish something that would make a difference in the world… and maybe even be famous!
As I grew older I had toyed with the idea that I would achieve this through sports, artistic endeavors and even through TV/Movies. But by the time I had reached my mid-twenties and was experiencing the reality of day to day living, I had began to surrender to the inevitable… that I would never really make a difference to the world in any appreciable way. I was just another Joe, goin’ to his nine to five job!
By the time I was in my mid-thirties, the belief of my special place in life was nothing more than a pipe dream that became lost with the passing of time. I had begun to question my worth and my very reason for being…as many people experience in middle age. And then came my tipping point…the death of three people very close to me.
At the age of 39, I found relief from the emptiness and grief that had consumed me, after finally surrendering to God and for the first time accepting Jesus in my life as my savior. I still did not yet know my purpose, but at least I now felt I was in partnership with a higher power, which supplied much of what seemed to be missing in my life.
Over the Christmas holidays of 2001, I had sent my wife Sandy, along with our two children, Rob and Madie, up to visit their Grandma and Grandpa in Wisconsin. We had just come through one of the toughest financial periods of our life together, (remember the impact that 911 on business?), and I felt I needed a time of peace and reflection that only solitude could supply. So armed with my Bible and a copy of Prayer of Jabez, (by Bruce Wilkerson), I spent at least a couple hours each morning in prayer… which for me meant having a lot of conversations with God. When I say conversation, I don’t mean that I saw burning bushes and heard his thundering voice, but rather that I poured my heart out to God and asked for his help and guidance.
Boy, did he answer me in a big way! It was then that God had taken this little seed of an idea that “He” had planted in the back of my mind about two years earlier and made it clear that developing it into a full blown project was going to be my future! I was charged with taking the Passion story of Jesus and making it relevant, cool and attractive, to a whole new generation of readers who loved comic books, manga and graphic novels, (and for the cynics out there, this was more than two years prior to Mel Gibson’s release of his Passion movie). Within a span of that one-week I had taken what would become the first Eye Witness Book, from a story concept, (that was mostly in my head), to laying out a detailed outline and also establishing my production timetable for the project.
I felt revitalized! For the first time I finally understood: My lifelong love of comics; the reason for my experiences in the publishing industry; and mainly, discovered the purpose for the wonderful writing and artist skills God had gifted me with…and which I had never really utilized to their full potential.
Through the last 8+ years of hard work on what has become four books of the Eye Witness series, I have learned the definition of Faith: “Believing when the evidence needed to do so, might be absent,”… because I just didn’t think I had the talent, contacts, financial resources and technical experience to tackle a job this large! But I was proven wrong. As the Bible says, “with God anything is possible!”
So, now I feel I am right where He planned for me to be all along: Creating a biblical adaptation that is attractive and culturally relevant to young people around the world; inspiring other creative people to follow down this same path; and speaking to people about the spiritual gifts he gives us all, (including artistic and creative talent), and the importance of finding “his purpose” for those gifts in our life and in our communities.
I am now indeed “doing something special” all right, not only for my family and myself, but also for God. I have discovered something far more important than being famous…I have discovered how to have significance!