Last January I made a bitter-sweet trip to Door County, Wisconsin. Our third-born child, second-born son was commencing a ministry as a youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Sister Bay. I wrote this piece while I was there:
This afternoon we visited a nice used book shop in Fish Creek. (Fish Creek is the village on the north slope of the Door Peninsula between Egg Harbor and Sister Bay, Wisconsin). The proprietor is a young man who runs a very tidy, well-ordered shop and plays quiet, pleasant, classical music. I purchased a stack of books there in September, on our anniversary trip. While I was there I noticed that the religion section was extremely small and what was there reflected a distinct anti-orthodox bias.
We had a hearty breakfast at a Swedish Restaurant, visited the church, and then stopped in to browse the stacks at the bookstore to see what was new. Strolling around today with the boys, I wondered how I could be a testimony to the owner. Then I had an idea. He owns a bookstore. I will give him a copy of my new book.
I said, “Are you a reader?”
“Absolutely,” he answered.
Daniel went to the car and got a copy of my book. I said, “I have written a book and I would like you to have a copy. I will give it to you if you promise to read it.” He said, “Oh, I can’t make any promises. I have a tall stack of books that I have not read yet.”
He said, “I don’t read much fiction anyway.”
I was taken aback a bit so I didn’t tell him that my book was not fiction, and that it was pretty good reading if you ask me – For the sake of our testimony I tried not to be offended with him. The boys overheard the conversation and I could tell they were having less-than-charitable thoughts. I bought a few books and introduced him to Chuk, who would be starting his pastoral ministry in the next village up the coast.
As I drove away I thought how wonderful it would be to become a very well-know, sought-after writer and for him to realize one day that I was in his store personally and offered him a copy of my first book as a gift and he turned it down without so much as taking it in his hand and looking at it.
I really don’t have grandiose personal ambitions about writing very often. I just love the idea that folk here and there will take up something I have read and enjoy it. I love to hear stories about how people have enjoyed my stories. I like to hear that one of the stories made them cry or encouraged them to spend a day with their children or take their wife on a date.
But today was an exception. For just a minute I allowed myself the sinful luxury of an ambitious fantasy. I allowed myself to think how fun it would be for him to have to buy a bunch of my books to resell to customers who continually requested copies of my book. I like the idea of him actually paying some of his hard-earned cash for a copy and looking at the picture and realizing what a foolish mistake he had made.
Perhaps I shouldn’t mention that I have such thoughts, but I do and so I did. Honestly, I really did kind of feel bad for him because I’m sure he would have liked by book. It’s a good book and I know it, even if I can’t give it away.
I think I’m going to send him an e-mail when I get home and attach this little piece and tell him I will give him one more chance when I return, but only one and then I will take all my significant book-buying business elsewhere, and I will issue a command to all my heirs to follow suit.
He will live to regret what he did.
How like the fallen world about us. Turning down a good thing that would have very possibly made an eternal difference in that life. Perhaps, on second thought, he may yet take you up on it. If not, you have done your best.
Our Savior did not force Himself upon people, either.
And He won’t yet today. But He does still”stand at the door and knock.
Keep up the good work. Love, Dad