By Henry McLaughlin
Continue the Journey has been my tag line since I first became serious about writing and printed my first business cards.
Obviously it stems from my debut novel, Journey to Riverbend. But there’s more to it than just a gimmick to remind people about the book. (Did I mention my first book is Journey to Riverbend? Did I mention I’m working on sequels?)
While I worked on the story of Michael and Rachel, the themes of the story began to emerge in the characters’ lives. The themes of reconciliation, restoration, and self-forgiveness manifested as Michael and the posse pursued the kidnappers and Rachel battled and defeated her own demons of unworthiness back in town.
And the other theme that came out is life as a journey. More than the natural journey of birth to death. Or the journey from youth to adulthood, to career and family and responsibility.
And I know this idea of life as a journey is not a sudden new revelation. It’s not the discovery of a workable warp drive or a transporter beam. Or even a food replicator.
Life is not just one journey. It is several. And they overlap and they impact each other and set us on a course. Or throw us off course if we let them. We decide which course as we walk out our journey.
Michael grew up in a violent family. And this violence continued in his life until he accepted Jesus. And his journey slowly turned. No longer violent or abusive, he was also constrained by the guilt and shame of the man he had been to the point where it was difficult for him to be the man he needed to be.
His Journey to Riverbend contained his first steps toward self-forgiveness and restoration. His journey is not finished at the end of the book just as ours are not finished when we reach certain stages in our lives. Like Michael, we continue the journey to spiritual understanding and maturity everyday, to a closer relationship with our Lord and Savior, to fulfilling His plan for our lives. To doing us so God’s creation can be complete.
Some days we take a step back or slip off the road. Then we get back up and continue the journey to a more complete person, to the person God has called us to be in this life.
Henry McLaughlin’s debut novel, Journey to Riverbend, won the 2009 Operation First Novel contest. He serves as Associate Director of North Texas Christian Writers. Besides writing fiction, Henry edits novels, leads critique groups, and teaches at conferences and workshops. He enjoys mentoring and coaching individual writers.