Posted by: John-Paul | May 14, 2018

A Cry of Anguish: The Start of Writing Joshua & Caleb

Aa-ee! A cry tore from Joshua. His arms came up to cover his anguished face as he hunched his back and beat his head against angry fists.

I stood at my factory workstation, bending slender aluminum tubes and musing over something I had read in scripture. The Israelites had refused to go up into Canaan because they feared the giants there.

Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt? (Numbers 14:3)

As a result, Yahweh declared that the whole nation would continue to roam the wilderness until everyone in that generation was dead. Only Joshua and Caleb would live to lead the next generation into the Promised Land.

I imagined Joshua’s angry roar at the unbelievers. “You people have condemned me to forty years of useless wandering! I’ll be an old man before I get the plot of land Yahweh has set aside for me!”

This was, for me, the start of my imagining the story of Joshua and Caleb. I saw Joshua as an anti-social, gruff-mannered administrative type much like my own dark side. I imagined Caleb as a musician who loves to worship El Shaddai but avoids conflict much like my light side. Because he was a descendant of Kennizites, an offshoot of Midianites and not of Israel, I could start Caleb’s backstory in Canaan and have him returning to family.

Soon after I began to write and organize ideas, I read Christopher Vogler’s book, The Writer’s Journey. This introduced to me the mythic structure of the hero’s journey or quest.  I decided that not only did Joshua and Caleb each have his own hero’s journey but that Israel also did. And it became clear that Joshua and Israel would fail their quests. This made necessary a second book about training the next generation into an army God could use.

Though the story of Joshua and Caleb would end in the tragedy of failure and judgment, I knew I had to leave readers with hope. Caleb would speak of God’s love and the ultimate fulfillment of His promises.

What mental image or thought has been a spark to your own creativity? What have you done to bring out that idea?

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