by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim author Rich Johnson feels one of his greatest gifts to the world is his newest book, "A Lump of Clay."
"It was just put into my mind," Johnson said. "At first, I thought it would be a good little story for our children and grandchildren but then I decided that the message was too important to limit it to just our family."
Johnson's story follows a lump of clay that is dug up by a craftsman for pottery. The lump is excited to be out of "his" surroundings and for whatever adventures are ahead. Suspense builds as other clay lumps wonder what will happen to them inside a factory. The lump of clay remains optimistic and trusting in his craftsman before finding out his true purpose, but not before some trials and tribulations.
"In this life, we spend a lot of time and energy trying to get what we want out of life," Johnson said.
"We have hopes and dreams and expectations and when those sometimes don't work out the way we want them to, it's easy to feel like life cheated us out of what we deserve, or we feel like failures."
The same thing happens to the lump of clay, who anticipates that the craftsman will turn him into one thing but he becomes something else, to his dismay.
"Sometimes those negative emotions lead to truly destructive thoughts and behaviors," Johnson said.
"When the little lump didn't get what he hoped for, he thought all was lost. In fact, the lump felt like his creator had made a terrible mistake and didn't even care about him."
Johnson said readers who are spiritually sensitive should have several "aha" moments when the lump of clay's life aligns with their own. Emotions in the book range from hope to emotional despair to elation to deep gratitude.
"The beauty of the story is that it belongs to each of us personally," Johnson said. "It touches us in different ways according to what we need at the time. We can see ourselves in the lump of clay. We have felt those same emotions, passed through trials in life that we can connect with the experiences of the little lump. I believe readers will see themselves in the story and find hope and inspiration."
Without giving anything away, the ending of the story ties directly to the Christian faith. Johnson said discovering the end of the story was an emotional experience for him because of the powerful message that emerged.
"It hit me hard, right smack in the heart," Johnson said. "When I designed the book and did the layout, I purposefully wanted the reader to have to turn the final page to discover the ending, hoping they will feel exactly what I felt when the ending was revealed to me."
Johnson wasn't sure who his audience might be for the book.
His first thought was of "A Lump of Clay" as a parable for his grandchildren, but he asked several friends of both genders and a variety of ages to read it and give impressions. He discovered both children and adults enjoyed it.
"Parents buy it to read to their children, grandparents buy it to read to their grandkids and adult readers buy it to read for themselves when they need a fresh look at how God works with us to accomplish his eternal purposes," Johnson said.
"A Lump of Clay" is Johnson's first published spiritual book. He's authored "Rich Johnson's Guide to Wilderness Survival," "Rich Johnson's Guide to Trailer Boat Sailing" and "Code Name: Viper" and continues to write a survival column for Outdoor Life.
He has two more books readying with religious themes. He said this book has reaffirmed for him that God has everyone's best interests at heart while people tend to have their self-interest at heart.
"We don't always understand what he has in mind for us, but if we place ourselves in his hands, he can make more of us than we ever will be able to make of ourselves," Johnson said.
"A Lump of Clay" is purposely designed and priced to be a small gift book that people will want to give to friends and family members, Johnson said.
"It's great for giving at Christmas, but it isn't specifically a Christmas book so it can be given as a gift for occasions throughout the year."
For a Spiritual Spotlight on your church, spiritual group and/or event contact Matthew Nash at email@example.com.