Like many Christian and inspirational authors, I like to start each of my books with a verse from Scripture that captures the theme of the book. Sometimes I know the theme verse before I start writing, but more often, it becomes clear as I write and see a theme appearing over and over in the story.
As I was looking back over the theme verses I’ve used in the Hope Springs books so far, something became clear to me: in almost all cases, the verses are ones I’ve needed to be reminded of or focus on in my own life at the time I was writing. I don’t think this is an accident. When my husband was in seminary, one of the things he was taught was to “preach to yourself first,” and I think that’s true of writing too. The messages in my books are ones that I not only need to share but that I need to hear too.
So here’s a little look at the theme verses from each of my books and why I chose them:
In this book, Sophie really wrestles with the idea that she has to be “good enough.” She’s always striving to prove herself. Thankfully, Spencer and her friends are there to remind her that God’s grace is free and unconditional and there is nothing she has to do—nothing she can do—to earn it. This is a reminder I need often. As a bit of a perfectionist, I have always worried about falling short. And I think that was especially true when I released this first book. Because what if I failed? But time and again, God reminds me through his Word that he has saved me through his mercy, not because of anything I have done.
Jared and Peyton are really struggling to figure out God’s plans for them. In the end, Pastor Dan reminds Jared that God’s plan for us is that we honor and serve him—and that there are a lot of ways we can do that. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve wished that God would hand me a map for my life and say, “Here’s what I want you to do. Live here. Take this job. Do this thing.” But that’s not how it works. Instead, he gives us a free will to make those choices, trusting that he will guide us and bless us as we do.
This books was hard because Nate was holding onto guilt over a sin from his past. A sin he didn’t think he deserved to be forgiven for. And quite frankly, it’s a sin we might not think he deserves to be forgiven for either. But that’s the thing Pastor Dan points out to him (and that I have to remember too)—he doesn’t deserve to be forgiven for that sin or for any other sin. None of us do. But in his great mercy and grace, God sent his Son to die for every single one of our sins.
In this book, it’s Jade who’s dealing with the sins of her past and her rebellious ways. But the thing I really love about this book is that Pastor Dan faced the challenge of letting go of his hurt over Jade’s sins. Sometimes it feels like forgiving others is one of the hardest things we’re called on to do. We’d much rather hold onto old grudges. But remembering God’s great mercy for us, how can we not forgive others as well?
I admit, this might be one of my favorite theme verses, simply because it ties in so tightly with the theme of the book: “even if.” Austin feels like he’s lost so much already, and he doesn’t understand how he’s supposed to trust in God after that. But he’s reminded that even if bad things happen to us, even if the mountains fall, even if we lose everything in this world, we can still trust in the Lord. Because he promises to be with us through it all. It’s a reminder I need—not to put my hope in the things of this world but in God alone, no matter what circumstances I face.
Not Until This Day
This is my newest book, which will release next month. Right now, there are a few verses vying for the theme verse position, and I probably won’t make a final decision until I’m done with revisions. This book centers pretty heavily on Isabel’s fear and worry and the need to trust in the Lord, so it will likely be a verse that focuses on that theme.
And here’s where you come in…I’d love to hear your suggestions. When you struggle with fear and worry (and it feels like the whole world is struggling with that right now, doesn’t it?), what verses do you turn to?
And don’t forget, today is the last day of the birthday bash, so be sure to comment to be entered for one of the amazing prize packs! (Need more details on the bash? Check out this post.)