The Call to Mastery with Jordan Raynor

Francine Rivers (Author of Redeeming Love)

Episode Summary

Redeeming ambition and work

Episode Notes

Jordan Raynor sits down with Francine Rivers, Author of Redeeming Love, to talk about her involvement in the upcoming Redeeming Love film, Francine’s 3-year bout of writer’s block, and the striking parallels in her life story and that of C.S. Lewis’s.

Links Mentioned:

Episode Transcription

[0:00:05.3] JR: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Call to Mastery. I’m Jordan Raynor. This is a podcast for Christians who want to do their most exceptional work, for the glory of God and the good of others. Every week, I host a conversation with a Christian, who is also pursuing world-class mastery of their craft. We talk about their path to mastery, their daily habits and how their faith influences their work.


 

Today’s guest needs no introduction. We’re talking with Francine Rivers, the New York Times bestselling author of many books, but most notably, Redeeming Love, which has sold more than 3 million copies since it was released for the first time 30 years ago. It’s almost Valentine’s Day. It felt like the perfect time to release this episode.


 

Francine and I sat down together back in December. We talked about what her involvement was in the upcoming Redeeming Love film. We talked about her three-year bout of writer’s block right after coming to faith in Christ. We talked about the striking parallels in her life story and that of C.S. Lewis. This is a terrific conversation with my new friend, Francine Rivers.


 

[INTERVIEW]


 

[00:01:29] JR: Francine Rivers. Thank you so much for joining me.


 

[00:01:31] FR: Oh, it's a pleasure to be here.


 

[00:01:32] JR: My listeners have heard me talk about this in the past. I read basically zero fiction. I write non-fiction. That's the craft I know, so I don't read fiction. The exceptions being C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia.


 

[00:01:46] FR: Oh, yeah.


 

[00:01:47] JR: And Redeeming Love. That's it. That's the whole list. That's the whole list.


 

[00:01:51] FR: Not The Screwtape Letters?


 

[00:01:53] JR: Yeah, okay. Screwtape. Sorry, yeah. But, come on. It's basically non-fiction. It's a short list, but a dense one; one dense with quality. You got the 30th anniversary coming up with the book.


 

[00:02:03] FR: Yes.


 

[00:02:03] JR: Congratulations.


 

[00:02:04] FR: Thank you.


 

[00:02:05] JR: The movie is finally coming out.


 

[00:02:07] FR: The movie is finished and it should be out, we're hoping in spring of 2021.


 

[00:02:12] JR: Yeah, pandemic permitting. That's wonderful. I’m curious how involved you were in the adaptation to the screen.


 

[00:02:18] FR: I was very involved, because I wrote the script. Actually, I wrote the script because the scripts that I had seen before just didn't measure up. They didn't understand the character of Michael. I wrote the script. I got final draft and just looked at how scripts were written, because I wanted to show them what I was looking for. Then they said, “Oh. Well, we like this one.” That was a surprise. Then working with DJ Caruso, of course, he's the director of the movie. He does everything visually. We needed to restructure, because you wouldn't want to go into theater and see all the backstory of that little girl. That would just be too difficult.


 

All the major scenes are in there from the book. You don't have all the head stuff going on. You don't know what's going on inside the minds of the characters, but he did a really outstanding job. The question is, what is it going to be rated? Because it is really – there are adult themes all the way through, even though it's about a child to begin with. It's a lot of rough stuff that she goes through and things that we're seeing in our culture now with sex trafficking.


 

[00:03:25] JR: Sure. How did this work? Did people throughout the years come to you with scripts and be like, “Hey, I want permission to do this,” and you just said no and decided to do it yourself?


 

[00:03:34] FR: Well, we had two or three different companies that actually worked with us and the scripts that we read just didn't work. Their option time would run out. We'd just say, no. We're moving on. I think the first one, it was actually a young woman, because I was hoping to have a young person who's starting out, actually, do the film and she had it for almost 10 years. My agent said, “You know, you just can't keep doing it –”


 

[00:04:00] JR: You can't wait around forever.


 

[00:04:01] FR: “You can't keep waiting around.” We had to pull the plug on that one. Then there were I think, there were two other companies before we worked with Cindy Bond, whose Mission Pictures and then Pure Flix also is onboard.


 

[00:04:13] JR: I love it. I can't wait to see the film. A lot of people, I think, listening, obviously they know you for Redeeming Love and your other great work, but a lot of them don't know your backstory and that you came to faith in Christ later than a lot of people. Your age, you're in your 30s, is that right?


 

[00:04:28] FR: I was. I grew up in the church, but I saw a lot of things that went on that I thought, why would you want to be a Christian if this is the way Christians act? Then went away to college and of course, did not go to church or have anything to do with faith. I went to school at college in the 60s, so I made a lot of the mistakes of the 60s, including having an illegal abortion.


 

Then Rick and I got married. I’ve known Rick since fifth grade and we reconnected when he was serving as a marine in Vietnam. My brother was in the army over there and he was captured during the Tet Offensive. When the marines came into the city, there was so much confusion, he was able to get away. He'd been really badly wounded. That story came out in the local paper in Pleasanton, where I grew up. Rick's mom sent him the articles and he wrote to me at college and we started just corresponding.


 

He came home on December 21st, 1968 and we got married on December 21st, 1969. Then of course, he never grew up in the church and I did. We were struggling in our marriage. You've got two very different people. He's a marine and I was not a flower child, but I had other ideas about politics and stuff. We really struggled a lot. Had three children. We were close to divorce. Moved to Northern California, Sebastopol and God just put us in the only rental home in the town between two Christian families and a little boy of eight came over and said, “I got a church for you.”


 

[00:06:05] JR: I love this. Yeah.


 

[00:06:07] FR: Then on the other side, the lady is bringing us pie and inviting us and it was – to back up a little bit, we had tried church in Southern California, but Jesus had left the building of this particular church. Rick had actually served as chairman of the board of trustees and they didn't know he wasn't a Christian. We didn't know we weren't Christians. You think, well, if your parents were – you're born into it.


 

I started going. He didn't want to go. He didn't want to have anything to do with church anymore, because he saw the inner workings of this particular one. I asked the pastor, “Would you be willing to have a home bible study?” He said, “If your husband says yes, sure.” Rick said, “Fine,” and the rest is history. We were both baptized on the same day in 1986. I was in our late 30s, probably 36, 37-years-old.


 

[00:06:55] JR: Yeah. At that time, you were already a successful author.


 

[00:06:59] FR: Yeah, I’d written about eight or nine books in the general market, steamy historical romances. As soon as I became a Christian, I literally couldn't write. It stopped. I think God was saying, “You want to be my child, but you need to get to know me. You don't know anything about me.” I’d never really read the bible. There was that three-year period of where I started just reading through the bible.


 

We were doing bible studies every Tuesday night, which is still going on as a matter of fact. After all these years, Rick is now teaching it. I realized that I had made writing and my career an idol. I think God was just saying, “I need to be your priority.” I didn't care if I ever wrote again. That's when he gave me Redeeming Love, because we were studying the minor prophets.


 

[00:07:45] JR: I want to get back to that in a minute. Yeah, I read that writing for you is an escape. When your marriage was hard, when life was hard, you just threw everything into work and that became – that was your idol.


 

[00:07:58] FR: Yes. Yeah. I think it was my identity and my idol. When it turned around, when it didn't matter to me anymore, I was working with Rick and he had started a business and we were working together, working through our marriage. All of a sudden, we come to the minor prophets in the Book of Hosea and I just felt God is saying, “This is the love story I want you to write.” Still a steamy, historical love story. I spent the next year working on that and really felt like Jesus was sitting right next to me telling me about himself and talking to me about, because I did not grow up in the life that Angel did.


 

I mean, I had wonderful parents. I had a wonderful childhood. I didn't do a lot of research about child abuse and I didn't make the connection with sex trafficking. That noise is my six-month-old German Shepherd barging into the office.


 

[00:08:54] JR: I love it. He's free to say hello. Yeah.


 

[00:08:57] FR: Oh, yeah. He's here. I think that Jesus was sitting there revealing different things about the character, because it just played out gently over time to what was going on in her mind, in her heart. I felt in a sense, I was like her, because we start out. We all start out as children of darkness, where we don't have any knowledge of God and there's that defiance. Nobody's going to control my life. I want to be my own master.


 

Then fear, when you think of God doesn't want little bits and pieces of you. He wants everything; past, present, future, the whole deal. Then the humility comes when you realize your position and your wonder and your awe of God and wanting to serve him and then there's joy in the morning. Just that relationship with God changes everything.


 

[00:09:47] JR: I was reading your story in preparation for today. I mentioned C.S. Lewis a few minutes ago. I’m just really intrigued by the striking parallels in your two stories. You're both successful writers before coming to faith in Christ in your mid-30s and neither of you abandoned your careers as writers, but your faith radically changed your motives for writing and what it is you wrote. I’m curious if Lewis was an inspiration in this regard for you?


 

[00:10:17] FR: I had never even read Lewis. He is so brilliant to even be put in the same sentence with him. It's amazing. I mean, I learned about him later on after becoming a Christian. I’ve read most of his books, I think, I’ve read The Chronicles of Narnia to our children. Then The Screwtape Letters, I thought was amazing and was so revealing to me about the different ways that I would think and how we get sidetracked so easily. I just think he's an amazing author.


 

[00:10:49] JR: Will you please adapt Screwtape into a movie?


 

[00:10:53] FR: No, that's his. That was his. I wouldn't touch his work. No way. It would take somebody a lot brighter than me to do that. Oh, man.


 

[00:11:02] JR: His stepson, Doug Gresham, is a friend. We were having dinner in London a couple years ago and talking about the challenge of adapting that particular book, because lots of people have wanted to see it as a movie, as a play and it's tough to do. On the issue of copyright, rights, licenses, all the stuff, I have a really nitty-gritty technical question I’m really curious to ask you. I pulled up my copy of Redeeming Love. It's an older edition of the book.


 

[00:11:28] FR: The original. Do you have the original from the Bantam?


 

[00:11:30] JR: No, it's not from Bantam. It's from Multnomah. On the copyright page, there's a line that reads, “This is the redeemed version of Redeeming Love.” What's the story there?


 

[00:11:41] FR: Well, originally, I wrote it for the general market and I submitted it to my original publishing house and then my editor said, “No. This is an allegory about Jesus Christ and we do not publish books about Jesus Christ.” I thought, okay. Well, that's the end of my career in the general market and I wasn't sure now where do I go. My agent was matching me with an editor. Well, there was an editor at Bantam. Christian. She was trying to get Christian stories into the general market, into the women's fiction line. She was actually there for a period of time, while Redeeming Love. She read that, she knew exactly what it was and she's the one that purchased it.


 

I think it was in print for maybe a year, a year and a half. As soon as I could, I got the rights back, because you grow as a Christian. You're changing and transforming all through your life, until we get to go home to the Lord. There were things that I wanted to take out of the book. I really couldn't have a conversion scene in the original for the general market.


 

In the redeemed version, it's a little less racy and there's a conversion scene in it. There's no language. There was one scene where she used some language in talking to Paul and it fit. It would be what would come out of her mouth, but it just was not necessary. That’s something we've tried to do too with the movie is there isn't any foul language. Nothing is straight in your face. There are two love scenes, but they're married and nothing shows, but it's still adult themes, so we'll see how it's rated.


 

[00:13:30] JR: Yeah. Kudos to you for having the courage to buy back and redo it. That takes some bravery. Let's talk about the craft of writing for just a few minutes. You've achieved, I think, every author's dream of having multiple perennial sellers. Yeah, I don't think there's a recipe for creating a perennial seller, but I’m curious what advice you have for those listening who want to create work that just sells for decades, that lasts beyond them?


 

[00:13:58] FR: Well, I would say write what you need to read. That's usually my advice. Then, I use writing as a form of worship now, so I start with a question and I don't have the answer. I’m trying to figure out what's God's perspective. The characters are actually playing out the different points of view of how you might solve that particular question and there's one struggling Christian that represents me as the writer, trying to find how does God want me to behave in this situation.


 

After Redeeming Love, which was really, I consider that my testimony, my sharing my faith and showing the difference that Jesus made in my life. The first book after that that I wrote was The Voice in the Wind for the Mark of the Lion Trilogy. The question I had there was, how do I share my faith with unsaved family and friends who do not want to read the bible? The only time they use the word Jesus is as a cuss word. They don't want to hear about my faith.


 

What I learned in the process of writing that book is it's not what you say, it's how you live. They're always watching you. If they know you're a Christian, they are watching you all the time to see what you're going to do, how you're going to handle stress, or problems, what's going to come out of your mouth, how you're going to behave.


 

Then sooner or later, the question will arise. Why do you believe what you believe? I believe God gives you the answer at that time. He gives you the words to say to that particular person to speak truth to them.


 

[00:15:34] JR: They're watching our actions. They're watching our words, but they're also watching, I believe, commitment to craft. I’ve heard many stories of people who were in positions of sharing the gospel, precisely because they were world-class at what it is that they did. They were winsome. Excellence is winsome to people. It's attractive. Have you experienced that? If people from your former general market days come to you years later be like, “Hey, you're killing in the market still. What makes you tick?  What makes you different?”


 

[00:16:05] FR: Well, that was one of the advantages of writing Redeeming Love and I think the reason that God had me write it, because I had a readership from the previous books. Then I didn't write for three years, so people were writing and saying, “Why aren't you writing anymore?” Then I wrote Redeeming Love and then they'd write and they'd say, “Oh, I wish I could meet a Michael Hosea.” I could write back and say, “Well, you can. His name is Jesus Christ and that's what's happened.” It gave me an opportunity to share my faith.


 

[00:16:32] JR: What do world-class writers do that their less masterful counterparts don't do? You talked about starting with questions. You talked about writing what you want to read. What else? What's the delta between good and great as a writer?


 

[00:16:46] FR: Planting your seat in the seat. Spending hours at it. Looking at it as a responsibility. It's a gift that's given to us that we need to develop. I think we're always apprentices. You never stop being an apprentice as a writer. You're always learning new things about the craft. You're always learning new ways of doing things. I’m on a group of women writers. There are nine others. We get together every year. We couldn't this year, because of COVID, but we've been getting together on Zoom to brainstorm and talk and develop craft. I think it helps to have that community, to challenge each other. Iron sharpens iron type thing.


 

To attend conferences and take classes and learn more about it. Especially, majorly important is to stay in scripture daily. I always start my day with studying scripture, because you want that to be your formation.


 

[00:17:41] JR: You already mentioned starting your day with scripture. I’m really curious what the rest of your day looks like; a typical day, typical working day for you, what does it look like?


 

[00:17:48] FR: Well actually, the early morning, my husband gets up anywhere between 3:30 and 4:30 in the morning. He has Parkinson’s, so he awakens early. Plus, he was a businessman, so he was up early in the morning to go to the office. Then I’m up about 5:30 and we spend the first probably, hour and a half together, just talking, watching the news and we do a devotional time together. We read through the one-year bible.


 

Then I have my own time for study. Then after that, breakfast. After that, get ready for work, just like you're going to the office and then you plant your seat. I write four pages. I try for four pages a day, because writing was so important. Too important at one time. I try to limit the amount of work that I do per day and not just keep going and keep going, even if you have that role. Sometimes it's better to just stop.


 

I do a lot of work in the yard. Housework. Errands. I mean, we have a vineyard. We don't drink, but we moved into a fixer-upper. The backyard was a wreck. I’ve had the greatest time out there working in the yard. I love to get my hands in the dirt. The vineyard was let go for the longest time. There are a 100 vines out there and there are so many spiritual messages and lessons in a vineyard.


 

I’ve been working with a gentleman who's in the management of the vineyard for over 50 years. He started in the vineyards when he was a really young man. He's been teaching me how to prune, what I need to spray for. The fertilizing will come up next. Just watching and cutting, taking the laterals off and limiting the branches. I mean, it's just been fascinating. Then we found a couple to take the fruit and make the wine, because otherwise, the fruit just go into a garbage can. It's not table grapes. They are literally wine grapes, or pinot noir, I think.


 

[00:19:50] JR: Yeah. I’ve got a great book for you. It's called The Soul of Wine. It's really short, really beautiful book. I’ll send you a copy. It's written by this theologian who grew up in a winemaking family in Germany and explores the spiritual undertones of wine and wine-making. It's a beautiful book. It's a beautiful book. Yeah, I’ll have to send you a copy.


 

I’m curious, when you're out in the vineyard, do you use that for breaks in between bouts of writing? You work with your mind, you rest with your hands, you find that restorative?


 

[00:20:24] FR: Yes, very much so. Now that we have a puppy – We had a German Shepherd and he passed away in March. Then we waited for a while and my husband just said, his heart just ached for a dog, for a German Shepherd. We got another one. We're now in the process of training. When I’m not working, I’m training. I’m out there working with the dog, which is challenging. There are a lot of lessons there too.


 

I’m thinking, I want to have dog faith, where they want to be at your feet. They want to do things to please you. That's the way we should be with God, as opposed to a cat that comes to you when it needs something and a little affection then goes off on its own.


 

[00:21:05] JR: I like that. That's really good. We want to be dog Christians, right?


 

[00:21:09] FR: Yes.


 

[00:21:11] JR: After you got back into writing, so you took this three-year hiatus, you couldn't write, you start writing Redeeming Love, I’m curious if you eventually found that you were paradoxically more ambitious for your work after it was reimagined as a form of worship?


 

[00:21:27] FR: I don't think so, because when I wrote Redeeming Love, I thought that was it. I’d stayed in my faith. That's all I needed to do. Then the question came up and I kept thinking about that question. How do I share my faith? Then the story started coming. I thought of Hadassah. I was reading about the early Christians and the early church and how their lives were on the line. I was thinking, “Well, what's wrong with me? My life isn't on the line. Why am I not sharing my faith?” That really started the journey. The way to express it and to work through all that just naturally seemed to be writing.


 

I never take it for granted that I’m going to write another book. It's as long as there are questions and there's a reason and a purpose to the writing, I’ll keep writing. I mean, God could take it away any time he wants. He took it away once before for good purpose. He could do the same again.


 

[00:22:22] JR: What's the question you're wrestling with right now as you write?


 

[00:22:25] FR: I don't have one right now. Other than I’m studying. Right now, what I’m doing is I’m reading a lot of books on the Middle-Eastern culture and how Jesus was a Middle-Eastern man, God incarnate. There are things in the parables and in the lives of the people that we miss, because we don't understand the Middle-Eastern culture. I’m reading The Blue Parakeet. I’m reading Jesus through the Middle-Eastern Lens. I took a bible study over the summer from a professor back in Nashville, Christie McLellan. Fascinating. Fascinating bible study. I asked her, “Can you give me your bibliography?” Which she did. I just got all the books and I’m going to go through and just study that. Then, if I do any writing, the one idea that just keeps rolling in my head is to do a parable story and write it with all those Middle-Eastern aspects to the story that we missed.


 

[00:23:26] JR: I love that idea. I really love that idea. By the way, I was thinking about you the other day. Are you a Dorothy Sayers fan?


 

[00:23:33] FR: I have read Dorothy Sayers, but it's been a while.


 

[00:23:37] JR: She wrote this play called The Man Who Would Be King, which is basically just reimagining the gospels as a play and really digging into some of the backstories and reimagine, like what you did in, what was the series? Lineage of Grace? Is that the name of it?


 

[00:23:50] FR: Yes.


 

[00:23:51] JR: Yeah. It's that through the life of Jesus. I’m not sure if you've read it, but I think you would thoroughly –


 

[00:23:56] FR: I’m writing it down right now.


 

[00:23:58] JR: It's really great. C.S. Lewis, I found this deep in a biography. Lewis read it every single Lenten season. Every season before Easter, he would read Dorothy Sayers’ play. It's really remarkable. Francine, Redeeming Love is 30-years-old. You've published a lot since then; a bunch of bestsellers, a bunch of critically-acclaimed books, but none of them matched 3 million sales of Redeeming Love. If I were in your shoes, I hope you don't struggle with this, but I’m just curious. If I were in your shoes, I think I would struggle with the temptation, I don't know, to be – I don't know if it's anger, but just frustration that God hadn’t given me an idea of equal or greater impact, rather than just being grateful for showing me extreme grace one time. Does that make sense at all? Have you struggled with this?


 

[00:24:45] FR: Not really. Because well, from the very beginning, Redeeming Love has never been my book. I felt that was God's story from beginning to end. Hosea is really the allegory about Christ and how much God loves us. We haven't kept any of it. I mean, Uncle Sam gets his share and the rest of it goes to the Lord. It's always been his and it's just – The writing to me is just a way for me to work through issues in my own life.


 

For example, the atonement child. That's when I work through having gone through and having had an abortion and all the rationalizations and justifications and all that stuff that goes on. Every single person in that book is impacted in some way by abortion. It brought tremendous healing. Everything I thought, all the criticism I thought I get from both sides, the pro-life and the ones that are pro-abortion, pro-choice. I thought I’d get flack from both sides and never did. Tyndale knew. They asked and they knew my story and they said, “We're behind her 100%.” It was an amazing, very difficult, very trying year to work on that, but it was healing at the end. For me, writing, that's what, yeah. It's like a self-help therapy.


 

[00:26:09] JR: Yeah, and worship. It's a form of worship for you.


 

[00:26:12] FR: God has the answers and he – I think he tells me when it's time. Okay, it was a number of years before I could deal with that. It was like, “Okay, it's time. It's time for you to deal with this and have the courage to take a real deep look at it.”


 

[00:26:28] JR: You've said, “I yearn for the Lord to use my stories in making people thirst for his word.” No doubt, this has happened with people who knew the Lord before picking up your books. You already touched on this a little bit, but I want you to talk about a little bit more. What about readers who didn't know the Lord prior to buying a Francine River's title? Have you heard stories of people coming to faith in Jesus, or exploring him through your stories?


 

[00:26:52] FR: Well, quite a few. The way I look at it is God can use anything to reach the hearts of his children, even a work of fiction. I mean, he can use something that somebody says just off the cuff to get through. We never know the timing, or what's happening. I just think that it's a tool for God. He can do what he wants. I will never save anybody. It'll never be me that did it. It'll be something that God just –


 

Sometimes, we hear from people and they'll say, “I got this out of your story.” I’m thinking, I didn't put that in there. It's just something that they got out of the story that God gave them. It's miraculous how many ways and how many things that God can use to reach his children.


 

[00:27:39] JR: I do think stories are a particularly effective vehicle, through which God reaches people's hearts.


 

[00:27:46] FR: Absolutely. Well, the bible. I think, the bible is God's story. It's the king's story and the kingdom story, all the way through from beginning to end. I think, sometimes we miss that. We tend to think of it as, “Oh, I have to go through Leviticus.” Well, Leviticus is there for a reason. It's part of that chain of story and what's happening and what God is doing to bring us to that revelation, to bring us back to the beginning. It's fascinating.


 

The ultimate storyteller of truth, truth’s story is God. Then Jesus, he was using stories to reach people, to blind some. Some didn't get it. The ones that said, “I don't understand what you're saying there. Would you explain it to me?” They're drawn to him. “Tell me more about what you're trying to say here.” Those are the ones that he taught.


 

[00:28:37] JR: Going back to the version of your story pre-Christ, work was this idol for you. Did you find that to be enslaving? We’re talking about sex trafficking. We're talking about slavery. Do you see parallels of that to work when work becomes an idol?


 

[00:28:54] FR: Oh, I do. I know for a while. It was actually a learning experience at one point, because Rick and I switched places. He had been working really hard and doing very well and then we decided okay, I had gotten a good paycheck. He could quit that job that he hated so much and he could stay home and be Mr. Mom for a while and I could be the breadwinner.


 

I mean, after a few months, he was ready to go crazy, because we had three small children at the time. I was the breadwinner and learning the stress and the heavy responsibility of the breadwinner. It was really good for both of us.


 

[00:29:33] JR: Yeah. There's this passage in the book that I think hits on this theme of idolatry. “They wanted angel in the same way they wanted the gold in the streams. They lusted –” I’m talking about the men. “They lusted for her. They fought for the chance to be with her. They paid to become enslaved. She gave them what they thought was heaven and consigned them to hell.” I think that's worked for a lot of people. We want success. We want all these things, but in the end find it unsatisfying, because it's not Christ.


 

[00:30:01] FR: Yeah. Well, I think when you're not a Christian, a lot of it is – Success is a whole different definition. I mean, you're thinking of, “Oh, I want to be famous. I want to be rich. I want to be well-known or whatever,” but when you want to be successful as a Christian, you really want to serve the Lord. You want to draw closer to him. You want to get to know him more. It's the relationship with your creator that you're going for.


 

[00:30:27] JR: Work is a tool to that end. It's a tool to that end. It's a tool of serving others. In that sense, we redeem work. Work is a good thing. It existed pre-sin, but it needs to be redeemed for his purposes.


 

You said in the book, in the author's note, “I used to believe the purpose in life is to find happiness. I don't believe that anymore.” What's the purpose of our lives and more specifically, the purpose of our work, our vocational work as Christ followers?


 

[00:30:55] FR: It's all about the relationship with Jesus. It's all about getting closer to him and finding out how do we walk through this world in our time and in our way through scripture? Because we don't live in the times of the law and all that. We have to figure out how to discern what we're supposed to do, to walk the walk that he wants us to do.


 

[00:31:18] JR: You're currently promoting a few new Redeeming Love products published by our shared publisher, WaterBrook & Multnomah. Tell us a bit about this keepsake edition of the book and the devotional and all the stuff that you're launching.


 

[00:31:31] JR: Well, the keepsake edition is just – it's beautiful for somebody that wants to have it on their shelf and keep it there forever and not be passing it around to people. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I probably should say, pass it around. Pass it around.


 

[00:31:45] JR: Exactly. Right.


 

[00:31:46] FR: With the companion study and the devotion, the pathway, the path book, it's something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, because I know that Redeeming Love has been used in ministries, especially in sex trafficking, also in battered women's shelters, that thing, but they don't have the tools to go with it. I thought it would be wonderful to have a bible study.


 

The way I would do it would be question – it’d be just bare bones. I thought, if I do something like that, I want to work with people who really know what they're doing. Angela Hunt's been a friend of mine for years and she is one brilliant lady. She and I work together on the companion study to go with the book. It's written in such a way that we're hoping people will get a journal, just a spiral notebook and work separately, think about it and really work through it.


 

The Pathway was with Karin Buursma, who worked with me on Earth Psalms. I like to write blogs, or I call them Earth Psalms about how I see God in nature; the lessons that I believe that he's teaching us through his creation. We took those offline and then she helped me and then added material in there. She's the one that worked with me on the path, the 40-day devotional. Just terrific gals. It's like, I didn't do these alone. These were team projects. These are awesome women of God who worked with me.


 

[00:33:11] JR: I love it. Three questions we wrap up every conversation with. Number one, and I always love posing this one to authors. Which books do you gift most frequently to others?


 

[00:33:22] FR: The Bible. The Bible. We buy them by the case. We buy the life application bible, the NLT version. Then we also buy the one-year bible, because that's the first time I – the first way I read the bible. It amazed me, because you're reading the old, the new, a psalm and a proverb and you actually go through the psalms and the proverbs twice in the year.


 

I could hear God's voice in all four and I could see connections every day between the old, the new, the psalm and the proverb. For me, it was a confirmation that this is God-inspired, because I could just hear him speaking to me through the word. Those are the two; the life application bible and the one-year bible are constantly gifts. We keep them on-hand all the time.


 

[00:34:10] JR: I love it. Just in the back of the car.


 

[00:34:12] FR: Well, in our shelf, when people come in, we come to the bible study, if they don't have – they don't really have a bible, here, we've got a life application for you.


 

[00:34:21] JR: That's beautiful. I love it. Who would you most like to hear, maybe on this podcast talking about how their faith influences the work they do in the world?


 

[00:34:29] FR: I mean, Anne Graham Lotz. I love her work. I’ve heard her before, but I mean, I could hear her again and again. I think she's an amazing woman of faith.


 

[00:34:39] JR: She really is. She was. I’ve never heard that answer before. That's a great answer. All right, last question. One piece of advice to leave this audience with. This is an audience of Christ followers that cares deeply about doing great work for his glory and the good of others. What do you want to leave them with?


 

[00:34:56] FR: Read the bible every year. Stay immersed in the word, because you want it to shape you. You want it to shape you as a person, but you also want it to shape your work. It's God breathed. It's God actually speaking to us. If you want a relationship with him, you need to spend time listening to him. It's like, that hero is real. The word is being spoken to you through the scriptures and that's where you meet him.


 

[00:35:25] JR: Amen. Francine, I want to commend you for the exceptional stories you've allowed God to bring into the world through your work. Thank you for not abandoning your craft, but redeeming your work and ambition for God's great glory. Hey, Francine’s very easy to find. If you're curious and you really can't find her, it's francinerivers.com. Francine, thank you so much for joining us.


 

[00:35:47] FR: Thank you very much. I’ve enjoyed it.


 

[END OF INTERVIEW]


 

[00:35:50] JR: That's an episode I will treasure for a long time. Francine is a legend (understatement) of the year. I hope you guys enjoyed that episode.


 

Hey, if you're enjoying the show, make sure you subscribe so you never miss an episode in the future. If you're already subscribed, do me a favor. Take 30 seconds right now and go leave a review of the podcast.


 

Thank you, guys, so much for tuning in to The Call to Mastery. I’ll see you next week.


 

[END]