Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
I know from first-hand what it’s like to attend a boarding school. I really didn’t enjoy it very much. For a country kid like me, it didn’t work. I felt like a fish out of water. Homesick and wondering why I was there.
But I was 13. Imagine if you were just six years of age and sent to boarding school. That’s what happened for young Ted Dekker. His mum and dad were church missionaries in the middle of an Indonesian jungle. And it was a dangerous mission. The natives were cannibals—and so, as was the custom then, preachers’ kids were sent to boarding school. But for Ted Dekker, it was a devastating and lonely experience. He felt abandoned, confused.
But today, Ted Dekker is a famous name in the world of fictional writing. He has written 50 books and, as a New York Times best seller, has sold over 10 million copies. In 2013, he was named one of the top suspense writers of all time. His novels are full of suspense, romance, adventure and fantasy tales—but also they include powerful themes of redemption, forgiveness, and finding purpose in life. He is a committed Christian, and points his readers to Jesus Christ, the answer to all life’s questions. He believes everyone is looking for significance and meaning and, through his characters, speaks a lot about life and personal struggles.
Finding Success Through Perseverance
What I find interesting about Ted Dekker is the quest to be a world-famous writer. After college, he worked in a marketing company but always wanted to be a writer. He didn’t know how to write—he had never formally studied the art—but he felt God had filled his soul with a story that had to be told. He resigned, bought a small home, and devoted his time to full-time writing. He wrote his first, second, third, fourth novel—all were rejected. He had literally written one million words before one of his works was accepted in 2000. His first book is called Heaven’s Wager and was a brilliant success. And his writing continued.
Dekker is one example of the old theme, Don’t give up. If you want to live a remarkable life, you’re going to have to work hard and be resilient, and have a sense of determination. Discover your goal—what is it that drives you on? Ted Dekker said in a TV interview that fame and fortune meant nothing to him. Following Jesus is all he wants to do. And God has given him a unique ability to write stories which people love to read.
No-one falls backward or stumbles upon a life of purpose. Behind most successful people are countless hours of hard work. We sometimes think that brilliantly talented people are born with abilities. That’s rarely the truth. They have worked very hard to get somewhere significant. It’s usually talent plus preparation.
The Importance of the Unseen Things
Do you have a desire to achieve something special in your life? Selwyn Hughes was another author—very different to Ted Dekker. He wrote daily devotionals which are still being used today. I read his material each day. And Selwyn Hughes used to say that when we are born, we have three basic needs: that we belong to someone who loves us, that we are worthwhile, and that our lives count for something. I agree with his thoughts. Having a sense of identity helps clarify what I am striving for in life.
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In the New Testament, in the epistle of James, he asks his readers a simple question, What is your life? (James 4:14). It’s a profound question—there is no greater question to be answered, there is no greater pursuit in life than to find what the meaning of life really is. The answer to that question, for most people—at least some—is crucial to why they are here. It’s probably the most asked philosophical question by humanity at large, and yet most people believe that they probably will never ever find the true answer to what the meaning of their life is, for whatever reason.
The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “The things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal”. So Paul, if you like, is saying, Your life is seen, make sure that you are not living only for the things that are seen. There’s a lesson here. Make sure you have worked this out before it’s too late.
The Christian life may be difficult sometimes. But it has a tremendous sense of adventure and joy—and an answer for what happens when we die. We can have the assurance of living in eternity with Jesus. Put your trust in him today and discover real meaning.