If Your License Plate Reads …NTOMBI, call me.
The novel Inklings: The Heavens Are Up To Something! has been released and is available at most major online outlets. The faith walk in creating it has been a steady obedience in the same direction.
Sixteen years ago we visited Kwandwe Game Reserve in South Africa. The final miles of the journey to Kwandwe are on rutted sand roads. We arrived first to the homestead house, a one story, white, dutch colonial, beautifully situated with the vastness of Kwandwe all around. Our greeter came out to the car like an old friend who had heard our approach despite the silence of the sandy road. She welcomed us.
I don’t know her name but in five minutes of conversation standing beside our rental car on a patch of cleared bush, on the other side of the world, I was struck by her truth. In just moments we learned she is a follower of Jesus and her father is a missionary in California. We hugged like relatives and then were offered fresh lemonade before being loaded into another vehicle and whisked away. I never saw her again except in my minds eye. The encounter was like a seed planted. The seed sprouted a decade later into a main character. She became Ntombi.
As I write this, the life I have given Ntombi is put forth on the pages of Inklings. As one new to the publishing world, I am also new to the questions one receives. Those who have read advance copy have asked about the writing process. Therefore, with your permission, I shall reflect a bit here. Though admittedly I don’t understand it. Inspiration is a mystery and from a historic standpoint, I have always disliked writing. But then God said, “Write.”
In 2 Thessalonians 5:24 we read The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
My testimony is – He has done it! With each challenging step, the inkling came in the form of the still small voice saying — start. Start researching. Ugh, I hate research. Obedience didn’t come easy but something miraculous happened along the way. With each step of obedience, which frankly was drudgery at the onset, God turned it to joy. First, I got hooked on research. Then came the interviews. I wanted to keep frolicking in the research. Again, the voice. I didn’t want to stop researching and do interviews. I started and by interview number two, I was hooked. It became joy.
Okay, so you are thinking the next step was to write. No, the next step was to learn to write and then to pen the first draft. With each step God has been faithful and true and along the way he has given me signs. Yes, signs — signs I was on the right path.
Once in the middle of the first draft, (middles are hard) I pulled into the parking lot of The Arrow Hotel in Broken Bow, Nebraska. (Note: not all business travel is glamorous.) I was weary from the day’s journey of connecting flights and the four hour drive from Omaha. The long drive came with simultaneous doubts about the novel and why on earth I was writing it. As I yanked my overly packed bag from the trunk of the rental car, I saw a sign. Yep, the car beside me had a simple license plate which read, WRITE. I laughed with God. You do know he has a sense of humor, or rather is the source all good humor.
This past week, a friend was reading an advance copy of Inklings. She sent a text with a photo of the back of a white Jeep. In the text she said, “I am halfway through your book — cannot put it down! Saw this license plate yesterday : ).” There, on the back of the Jeep, was a South Carolina license plate which read, NTOMBI.
I’ve never before seen the name other than in my research of South African baby names and yet, plainly displayed for such a time as this; for this one on a very long road, who needed another sign, NTOMBI. He did it! My mouth dropped. I was stunned.
The one who calls you is faithful, he will do it.
Try not to act surprised.