Approximately 15 years ago, Doug Early gave a series of sermons, starting with the first letter of the Gospel of John. The pastor of the Queen Anne Presbyterian Church (414 W. Howe St.) since 1997, Early had always liked the message it espoused.
“I just felt like so many of the things that he was writing about were captured what to me had always felt like the essence of the Christian faith,” he said. “It’s a bit more contemplative and meditative than a lot of American Christianity and modern Christianity in the West, and so I was really struck just personally how much it resonated with me.”
However, Early also felt it may resonate with others. But still relatively new to his role at the church, and with young children at home, he put the idea of putting his thoughts in print on the backburner.
Four years ago, he revisited the concept, albeit with a bit of trepidation at first as to whether the thoughts from more than a decade ago still held up.
“The more I looked around, the more I felt like if not, it’s probably more so relevant because of the way the distraction of our social media and media in general on the distraction of our world,” he said.
The result is Early’s new book, “Abide in Me: Being Fully Alive in Christ,” published through Wipf and Stock.
As someone who loves to think and write, Early said the actually writing process for his book was easy. The daunting part was navigating the world of publishing.
“Originally, I honestly thought, ‘I’ll write it up, I’ll put it in electronic form of some sort and send it out to a few people that I think might enjoy it,’” he said.
But after getting a significant portion done, his wife encouraged him to consider seeking out a publisher. While the writing process may have taken a year-and-a-half,
“It was so much more work than I ever anticipated,” Early said of publishing, “and to do it well, you have to take the time to do it right.”
Early said that the response thus far to his book has been positive. In reviews, Denny Rydberg, the president emeritus of Young Life, said Early, “writes to transform, rather than inform,” while author Lynne Baab said the pastor’s love of 1 John “shines in his vivid stories and helpful analysis of key themes.”
Early said he was struck by John by the idea that the concept of receiving and embracing what already exists, rather than constantly striving for a spiritual life.
“So much of what John talks about is attending to what already is,” he said, “that God has shown God’s love for us, the spirit lives within us and is always with us, and so, much of it is relaxing and understanding what God has already done, and then attending to what is already here.”
Ultimately, Early is hoping readers take from his book a sense of grace in their life with God and their life in the world.
“I would hope that people as they read it, get that sense of, ‘Okay, I don’t have to work so hard, and still be able to maybe become the person that I’d like to become and live the life that I’d like to live,’” he said.
For more information, or to purchase Early’s book, visit www.wipfandstock.com/abide-in-me-14792.html. Early’s book is also available at Queen Anne Book Company.