In the month before Asher was born, my friend Thom Smith loaned me a copy of the novel. Many books have affected me profoundly, but this one remains very near the top.
I had always loved writing and music, but the community in which I was reared did not value the kind of writing I felt compelled to do. With so many souls in need, how could I waste my time with stories that did not serve that purpose? If you do have a gift, I was told, you have an obligation to use it to further the Kingdom of God—in practical and measurable ways. That was their view of my writing; the music I loved, well that was written off as evil from the start.
For years, I tried to contort myself into acceptable shapes. I capitulated as best I could. I went to seminary, dreading the thought of ministry. While there, I told one of my professors about my writing. He said, great, we need writers. He even referred me to a guy who wrote gospel tracts for a living, so he could teach me how to do it. In those days my soul felt like a plant yanked from the earth roots and all, shrinking in on itself as it died.
The story of Asher Lev hummed true all the way into my bones.