It has been 36 years since Max Lucado debuted his first book, and even he is amazed how far he’s come since 1985. Just a few years prior to that, he was an associate pastor tasked with writing the church’s weekly bulletin.
“The church had only three people on the church staff, and we each had to write a column in that weekly church bulletin. So, not only was I exposed to some good preaching, I was given a weekly assignment to write. I really enjoyed that. I was surprised how much I enjoyed writing those little three- or four-inch blurb columns. I came to love writing and I came to understand the power of writing because people would always say, ‘You know, that really helped me. That really encouraged me.”
“I had no idea what God was up to then,” said the pastor who now has sold 130 million copies of his 43 books, including 23 titles deemed best-sellers.
His latest book, You Were Made for this Moment, speaks both to COVID and to his own recent health scare with an aortic aneurysm, although written before the aneurysm.
On his health, he’s upbeat. “It’s a work in progress trying to determine the best course of action. I feel fine. I don’t feel anything. Energy isn’t quite what it used to be, however, I got plenty for what I need to do.”
He is eager to talk about maximizing the moments God has given not only to him but also to the larger audience of his readers. The San Antonio, Texas, pastor is more aware than ever that each person has been given time and that not to understand that is a mistake.
“COVID really entered our consciousness in March of 2020. Churches were shutting their doors, we were not having Easter services, and people were starting to wear masks. Well, about that same time, I was scheduled to preach a series at our church on the theme of stewardship, which is a very valid sermon series, but that would have seemed really tone deaf,” he explained. “I mean we had people wondering if they’re going to live and I was going to get up and urge them to budget their money. It didn’t seem quite the same.
“In the back of my mind, I thought Esther would be a great series to help people get through personal crisis, but I never saw it as a book to help us to get through a global crisis. But that’s what the book of Esther is about.,” he continued. “So I thought, OK, I’m not going to do the stewardship series. Esther is a story of a global calamity and how God protected his people and used his people during a crisis. In their case, of course, it was the decreed Holocaust, but the principles can really translate.”
“Esther is a story of a global calamity and how God protected his people and used his people during a crisis.”
The biblical story of Esther teaches how to maximize time in tough situations, he discovered. Yet he still faced a challenge in how to take the Old Testament story and make it applicable to his modern audience as a sermon series and then a book.
His approach was shaped by his deep desire to write for people who don’t normally read books.
“I didn’t want to bog people down into details, but you have to have the chronology,” he explained. “You have to have the context in order for the story to make sense while describing ancient Persia in a way that’s lively and that’s engaging without being too historical and tedious. I found that to be a challenge. … The people I like to write for are driving trucks and they’re getting the kids to school. I wanted to make the book accessible to people to read without weighing them down so that they missed the significance of the story of Esther.”
Just as clear as Lucado is about his audience, he’s equally certain we’re living in a significant time in American history, and people of faith should not only maximize their time but also be alert to the times.
“I believe in the sovereignty of God, in the providence of a good God to the empty tomb of Jesus Christ,” he said. “My simple line of logic is that if Jesus really rose from the grave, then he really is on the throne. If he really is on the throne, then he oversees every detail of life. If he oversees every detail of life, then I can take comfort in that fact.”
Personally, the prolific author is maximizing his time by gearing up to write yet another book — this one on the power of the Holy Spirit as unfailing friend. Lucado believes that if Christians can hold on to the power of God they will not only maximize time but also find a life worth living.
“We have a higher calling,” he said. “Remember the story in Nehemiah? He wouldn’t come down off the wall. He wouldn’t come down here. He had a higher calling. I think that’s it. We just stay focused on the higher calling that God has for us.”
Maina Mwaura is a freelance writer and communications consultant who lives in the metro Atlanta area. A native of Orlando, Fla., he earned a bachelor of science degree in communications from Liberty University and a master of divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
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