Christian Books Embody Eternal Purposes
I designed my first published book cover while still in college and began a freelance career doing so a few years later, in 1993. Through my company, TLC Book Design, I’ve coached hundreds of independent authors through the book creation process, teaching them about the importance of producing a well-edited, professionally designed and produced book. We’ve won hundreds of awards for our work. It was always about creating a beautiful, salable book that wouldn’t be noticed as a self-published book.
With more experience came the realization that a beautiful, quality book is not the endpoint of publishing. Nope. A book is so much bigger than just a book! Books take people places—not just into a fantasy land, but into better lives, doing new things, facing fears, healing hearts, saving lives, and even saving souls. Many Christian authors write specifically to help others by sharing new health secrets, better business models, or how to have a deeper relationship with Christ. Some help almost inadvertently by providing a few hours of escape and much-needed relaxation through a novel. What authors often don’t realize is that publishing a book can actually take them on a journey beyond expectations. Once in a while, it can do the same for those involved in producing the books as well. Isn’t it just like God to surprise us with a grander purpose?
Sometime around 2012, I unwittingly embarked on one of these upon signing a contract to design a children’s book that teaches about the warnings and joyous message in the book of Revelation. Teaching something this deep—and a little scary—to kids was unique and proved to be somewhat controversial. I felt a connection with the author, her passion, and have always been in love with this book of the Bible. My team was honored to take her book from looking self-made to a beautiful family treasure for its recipients. My family hosted the author in our home, I appeared on her radio show, and I couldn’t wait to start hearing how the book, I Won’t Take the Mark, would change other people’s lives.
Now, it’s likely no surprise for you to hear that there was a LOT of spiritual warfare wrapped around this book. After all, its message celebrates the triumph of good over evil and encourages its readers to promise to worship only God and never take the mark of the beast. Yeah, it invites warfare! There were bizarre file troubles, deep relationship troubles for some people involved in its development, and countless other maladies that he used to try to derail this book. Throughout, our shared passion for sharing the deep love of Christ with children and their caregivers drove us to continue forward.
Once complete, the author informed me that her friend, a pastor in the Caribbean country of Anguilla, asked if she would officially release her book on their 16-by-3-mile island. In fact, they wanted this to be part of a Christian Heritage week to strengthen the predominant yet waning faith of the islanders. She was thrilled to accept and quickly put together a small, international mission team to reach every school child in the country. What a beautiful opportunity! Thankfully, my role in this book had been complete, and I could proudly watch it take off from afar. Why thankfully? Because I fear the ocean, don’t appreciate the beach (I know!), and have fourteen food allergies, making travel very challenging. You’re probably laughing, knowing what’s about to come. Yes, God led my whole family to join that mission team! What would be a cushy mission trip for many caused me to be fraught with fear—but I said “yes” to Him who called. After all, He says we should not fear but trust Him, right? Yeah, I was still awfully nervous. While there were challenges, He brought us through each one and then some.
I did a lot of soul-searching on the trip, which is something I don’t do very often and certainly didn’t expect. I’m a practical, to-do-list kind of girl and couldn’t see that God might have something in store beyond creating the book and getting it into the hands of these lovely children. Not that there had to be anything more, of course.
The other team members had skills that were directly useful—leading worship, performing readings, and photojournalism. I did not and couldn’t figure out why God would then “make” me come. Our daughter was only 3 and still needed naps, which was tough to work around. Finding food I could safely eat was difficult and affected our schedule as well. Looking out over the Caribbean toward St. Martin was beautiful but deeply frightening to me. Oh, the ferry ride! It couldn’t have been over sooner. Also, have you ever seen the famous St. Martin airport? Look it up. Yikes! I knew I wasn’t there to be lauded as the wonderful designer of the book. I wasn’t presenting at each of the churches and schools we visited. I wasn’t driving people around. As I got to know each of the people there and take care of our family, I became almost depressed, not seeing my purpose and only the burdens I thought we brought.
One evening early on, I shared this struggle with a few team members including my author friend. Surprised, they recognized my purpose immediately and caringly shared as I listened in wonder. God had made me their caretaker! Because I couldn’t eat out, I was cooking meals (and making enough for everyone), helping (along with the kids) to stuff the gift bags with Bibles and books, and generally supporting in any way possible so “everyone else” could do their Kingdom work. I was their mother figure—their needed Martha. Without all of this, I was informed, the team’s stress levels would be through the roof, and they wouldn’t be able to fulfill their purposes there. While I was feeling unnecessary, the others were quietly appreciating the little things I took upon myself while trying to figure out my true purpose in coming. That was pretty mind-blowing and humbling.
One afternoon late in the week, my husband and son went to the beach while I stayed back so little Hope could nap. The sea bottom was unevenly trenched due to a recent hurricane, and they both were violently swept to the bottom by a rogue wave causing fears of death and lost rental car keys. Praise God, the boys were okay, though shaken up pretty good. Because of the lost keys, the afternoon schedule was greatly messed up. Taking advantage of that, God led them to a little slushee stand on a back road that had a Green Bay Packers cup on the counter. We’re big fans, and that led to a longer conversation. While there, they met the head of the international school on the island—the ONLY school that wouldn’t allow us to share the book! He eagerly stated that he would love to offer the book to any student who wanted it if we would drop some off there. We simply weren’t allowed to present there or “push” our values on the students. Had they not been swept to the bottom of the sea, this may have never happened! And if I hadn’t said “yes” to God’s invitation, they wouldn’t have been there to receive this little miracle. What joy when they returned with this amazing story! Our 10-year-old son was baptized that evening by the very preacher who invited us to come and with our new mission family as witnesses. Pastor Philip has since visited our home and became a treasured friend.
Yes, this one little book became a God story beyond creating the book and beyond all of the beautiful people who will read it and hopefully give their lives to Christ. The author’s simple and grand purpose was to share the love of Jesus through a book. She had no idea the book would lead her to a nation-wide release that was part of a celebration of Christianity. My job was to share expertise and my design team to bring that book to fruition. That’s it. God had bigger plans, and I’m grateful. Your book has a very practical purpose, and that’s important. Put all you have into creating it and getting it into the hands of its readers. Be on the lookout, however, for other ways He just might touch you and others more deeply on this publishing journey. He has a way of doing more than you imagine simply because you said, “Yes, God.”
About the Author
Tamara Dever is the owner of TLC Book Design, a Bible-based book creation firm of over 25 years. She’s the author of three books and lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, two children, and two dogs.