by James A. Wilson
Nobody – not even God – expects flawed human beings to find Him; He finds us. He does expect us to seek Him; yet He is content for us to seek whatever passes for ultimate reality within our clouded perspective. He guarantees success in exchange for faithfulness on the quest throughout the book bearing His mark.
The main characters in my novel, Generation, do not have the wherewithal to go searching for God; they simply do not believe He exists. They do have the integrity to recognize the bankruptcy of nothing more important on their horizon than cutting school to go surfing and avoid discovery by school authorities. They do discover the poverty of lives lived in reactive rebellion against the parents and other people they do not trust. That same integrity impels them to begin to search for what they call the really real. It is my conviction there is only one terminus for such a search, but I have neither right nor need to judge when God does not, and certainly the characters find themselves in disparate locations from one to another when the story ends. Of course the last page of Generation is not really the end of their story; the author plans six books for the series.
But what does this search look like? Really?
For one thing it’s a good thing Jon and Lonnie and Travis and Blume begin their search as teenagers. If they had the responsibilities of family and career that come not much later in life they might excuse themselves with the old saw, “So up to our armpits in alligators we forgot our purpose was clearing the swamp.” The good news is the God they (unknowingly) seek at the end of their quest often promises He will take care of the alligators – if we let Him – so we can focus on our calling per the swamp. These young people have a roof over their heads – provided by their families – and a heart to work for the extras their families do not provide. The combination of two factors and a mandate to learn about the world beyond their high school campus confines provides both the impulse and the environment for their questing.
Another good thing is this God they unknowingly seek has a habit of challenging us with no more than we are prepared to handle in a given moment, though more is likely waiting in the wings. In Generation these close friends encounter virulent racism on a Southern California beach – where many believe it cannot exist in the easygoing culture of wind and wave – there it is dangerous but not yet deadly. They will later experience the lethal violence of the Klan, but coming as an escalation of what they have already had to process and respond to.
Still another is the will they share to have each other’s backs in fair and foul weather alike; this will extends to telling each other what neither wants to hear. When the protagonist is more devoted to conning his way through life than meeting it head on his friends confront him. The same dynamic operates when he begins to suspect a dark secret about a family member that could invade his life as well; he is able to receive the input because it is clear his friends speak from love rather than judgment; they have his back, and at cost. He has already demonstrated the same devotion to them in the first pages of his story.
The last-but-not-least good and essential thing is the commitment to act on truth discovered, wherever it may lead. The principal characters come upon opportunity after opportunity to take risks – physical, social, even spiritual – with the hoped-for pay-off being a more authentic life, a life worth living. Because they believe the really real is worth whatever they can imagine investing they go for it and are guaranteed ultimate success.
I am not offering some pap about all roads leading to the same destination. I am saying anyone willing to walk any road to its consequential end out of passion for authenticity will eventually come face-to-face with authenticity. As a Christian I am convicted authenticity has a Name. But I am equally convicted the really real God loves each of us more than I can and has made provision for each beyond my imagination. All I – or anyone else – need to do is be faithful in my own lifelong quest and encourage those I meet along the way – just as Jon and Lonnie and Travis and Blume practice for each other.
These things are essential.
James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books or at firstname.lastname@example.org