As you mentioned, a core theme of Under a Cloudless Sky is forgiveness. What are some ways that people and the church miss the mark when it comes to forgiveness?
I believe one of the main reasons we see so much division in the church and in society in general is this topic of forgiveness. We have a fuzzy idea about what it really is and we’re unable to extend it. That’s because we don’t understand what God has done for us in Christ. And our problem is that we are trying to give something we haven’t fully received.
In other words, it’s hard to give grace to someone if you’ve never received it yourself. This is part of the struggle of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day—they had a righteousness based on their own ability. They felt justified in their attitude toward sinners, not realizing how sinful their own hearts were. So they pushed back against the kindness and forgiveness Jesus offered. I wonder how much like them I am.
Twice The Honor, Twice The Awards
At this past Christy Awards show, you won in both the short form category for Looking Into You and in the general fiction category for The Promise of Jesse Woods. How did it feel to win Christy Awards for two of your titles the same year?
I was surprised and overjoyed that both books were chosen for the Christy Awards. I was so happy for the team at Tyndale who helped me craft the stories. Honestly, because the characters are so real to me, I felt so happy for them—Matt and Dickie and Jesse and Treha. As a writer you want your stories to be “seen” and winning a Christy helps in that process.
Can fiction really change hearts? And is that your goal with your stories?
I suppose what I try to do with each story I write is to faithfully paint portraits with words so that we see ourselves in a different way. I could write a nonfiction book about how to treat an elderly parent, how to draw someone out about a secret in the past, how to extend forgiveness, how to treat scoundrels—and any other number of themes in the book. However, I’ve been moved by fiction in the past and I want to replicate that in others’ lives.
So really, what I see myself doing, is the same thing the prophet Nathan did when he approached King David. David had sinned greatly—but the prophet told him a story that made him angry and want to judge the unkind protagonist. The story slipped around the back door of his heart and when he let it in, it convicted him because it showed him truth in a different way than simply didactic teaching.
I’m aware that no two people reading the same book will come away with the exact same feeling or application to their lives. That’s the power of a story—if it’s well-told. And I also believe a good story, to really change people on the heart level, has to have spiritual truth as its underpinning in order to achieve the desired goal.
As a writer, you don’t want to force that or impose your will on someone else, just tell the story truthfully. The reader, for the most part, will participate with you in the telling and find those truth nuggets for their own hearts.
Can you give us a hint about what you are working on now?
I usually jump right into another novel almost immediately after I finish the last one, but this time I took a few months to ponder and ask myself what I really want to write. What interests me so much, what speaks to my heart so much that I have to put it down on paper? So I’ve been writing some short stories and doing my daily radio program and pondering several stories that may become the next full-length novel.
What are you looking forward to in 2018?
I’m hoping to jump into another writing project or two—I’m always happiest when I’m writing. And I’m looking forward to doing life with our big family—nine children and my wife of thirty-five years. We’ve been going to the same gym for a few months, so in 2018 I’m hoping to become fit as a fiddle, as my father used to say.
Visit Chris Fabry’s author page at https://www.familyfiction.com/authors/chris-fabry
Under a Cloudless Sky
The Promise of Jesse Woods
Looking Into You