Selected—another word worthy of our study. We’ve looked at chosen and designated. Selected is a synonym for both. It means exclusive, elite, privileged (thank you, Thesaurus).

The thought takes me back to high school when I was selected for membership in a couple honor clubs. A little country girl…part of these esteemed groups! I’d been selected because of my academic achievement.

About that time a desire (which had nothing to do with honor clubs) began growing in my heart—to be a news reporter…of all things.

Where in the world would a little country girl come up with that? I only knew God put it in my heart and gifted me for the work. During high school I excelled in English. After graduating—just sixteen with only my dream and a gift in English—I applied for a job at our local newspaper. I had nothing to offer…no experience…just a country girl good in English. I didn’t make a memorable impression.

I started college still nourishing my dream of rushing off to cover the raging fire and the gruesome murder. I guess ordinary folks wouldn’t find that appealing. Years later, of course, I understood the impact of those tragedies, but such events held excitement for a young journalist.

When I stopped by the newspaper to remind the editor of my interest, my skills still weren’t needed. On my third visit during my junior year of college, persistence paid off. I landed a part-time position writing about news and social events. How could I ever do anything else? My blood ran printer’s ink. I didn’t yet realize God had selected me for this. Have you considered that God selected you for a special purpose?

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A few weeks after I began working at the newspaper, an editor asked if I’d be interested in taking over a weekly column, “The Entertainment Whirl. Country girl becomes a columnist!

In my first column published just before my nineteenth birthday, I briefly mentioned entertainment, only to say I felt baffled by the short-term-marriage pattern developing in Hollywood. Soon to be married and misty-eyed, I offered idealistic suggestions for a happy relationship that goes the distance.

In following weeks I shared more personal thoughts and injected my Christian faith. Being young and confident I had answers to life’s big questions, I didn’t hesitate to open my heart to readers I’d never met. After a few weeks the editor suggested changing the heading to reflect the content.

Since one of my college professors, Dr. Kenneth Spaulding, had shown interest in my writing, I asked him to think about an appropriate title. On Friday afternoon in the newsroom, I had finished my column for Sunday’s paper except for a quote I wanted at the end. Moments after I found it in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, the telephone rang—Dr. Spaulding suggesting “Of Cabbages and Kings.” I had just typed that quote from Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll to end my column.

The heading “Of Cabbages and Kings” provided freedom to write about diverse topics; and for the next seventeen years, I shared my life with thousands of readers. Many I’ve met since then have mentioned a favorite column, now a frayed yellow clipping saved in their Bible. A readership survey once ranked my column third after the sports page and Dear Abby.

Through the years I often encountered readers suggesting I publish them in a book. I published Cabbages and Kings—Reflections on Living Abundantly in Christ in 2012.

At the newspaper I also covered many religious events—area-wide crusades and the annual Appalachian Preaching Mission. One day I received in the mail a note from my pastor’s wife, along with a clipping from Decision magazine about a Christian writers conference in Minneapolis, headquarters for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. She thought I might be interested in attending. I asked the publisher to send me and he agreed.

There I met Dr. Sherwood E. Wirt, founding editor of Decision, published by BGEA. The next year Billy Graham held a crusade in Knoxville. I asked the publisher to send me to cover it and he agreed. The crusade made national headlines with the visit of President Richard Nixon. Through Dr. Wirt’s influence, I was selected by the crusade’s executive committee to write a commemorative book about the event. Billy Graham in Big Orange Country was my first book. I was twenty-four.

Four years later I left the newspaper to be a stay-at-home mom, a decision I’ve never regretted. I continued writing my column at home and more books. Lt. Clebe McClary, who lost a arm and eye in Vietnam, asked me to write his story. Through him I met his high-school friend, Harold Morris, who at that time was in Georgia State Penitentiary serving a double-life sentence for armed robbery and murder after being convicted by the false testimony of two companions.

Clebe and his wife Deanna visited him in prison and shared the hope he could have by giving his life to Christ. Later in his cell, he accepted Christ as Savior and Lord. We included the story in Clebe’s book, Living Proof. I told Harold he had an amazing story and I’d love to write it someday.

A few months later, he was miraculously paroled. He graduated from Bible college, and God opened doors to speak to young people about the dangers of alcohol and drugs. We stayed in touch and I often reminded him I wanted to write his book.

Someone sent Dr. James Dobson a tape of Harold speaking at a youth event. He used it on the Focus on the Family radio broadcast, and the program received the greatest response of any program to that date. Speaking requests poured in from across the country.

A health crisis interrupted his speaking ministry—throat cancer. While recovering from surgery and follow-up treatment, he decided to write his story to continue having an impact on youth, whatever the outcome of his illness.

Dr. Dobson had offered to help find a publisher. When he received the manuscript, he decided to pursue an idea that had been simmering and organized his own publishing company.

Twice Pardoned was the first book for Focus on the Family Publishing, a bestseller before publication with a pre-sale of 85,000 copies. It quickly soared to number one on the national Christian bestsellers list in 1986. Thirty-three years later, it’s still available on Amazon and still changing lives (1.5 million copies in print).

In the Gospels Jesus selected his disciples, saying “Follow me.” He extends the same invitation to us.

In the Gospels Jesus selected his disciples, saying “Follow me.” He extends the same invitation to us. Click To Tweet

I followed the impressions of my heart and pursued opportunities that God presented. It was all by his decision and his design. Only he knows why he selected me to declare his praise through writing and speaking.

Let’s talk about your life. What are the dreams and desires of your heart? Don’t be afraid to dream big. God created you for His glory, and nothing is impossible with him. He selected you. That means you’re exclusive, elite, privileged.

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Be sensitive to the leading of his Holy Spirit. Who would’ve thought sending a brief note about a writing conference could affect someone’s life so dramatically? Don’t underestimate the value of a seemingly small gesture. God may use it in a surprising way.

I’d love to hear how God used a small gesture in a mighty way in your life. Please leave a comment…and share this with your friends!

© Dianne Barker 2019