How a Book Is Born

How a Book Is Born

Did you ever wonder how a book idea is born in an author’s mind? Here is one way it happened.

The Pleasures of God was published in 1991. The first inkling I had of the conception behind this book came to me on September 12, 1986. Here is how it came — a direct quote from my journal from that day:

As I was praying today, the thought came to me that another book to write would be “The Happiness of God.” It could begin as a series of sermons and could be based on biblical texts where God rejoices or laughs or sings. . .

I have never collected all these texts, and Naves Topical Bible has no subtopic on God's joy or happiness. But I think of Jeremiah 32 and God's rejoicing over us to do us good, and Psalm 2 where he laughs at the heathen who rage, and Luke 10 where Jesus rejoices over election, and John 11 where he rejoices at the death of Lazarus because it will build faith, and the Psalms where he rejoices in all his works.

Would this not be a way of helping people know God without writing per se about the attributes of God? And would it not be a way to exalt him as one who rejoices in his glory above all — a way to stand against the flood of man-centeredness?

And it seems manageable in size, and I don't know of any book like it. And it could keep up the momentum from Desiring God.

Strange that this should enter my mind now while I feel so burdened and swamped by the merger meetings. Perhaps it is because my heart longs for the freedom to work on this kind of contribution to the kingdom's cause. Organization is not my joy. It is desiccating to me.

Lord please keep me hope-full, and let me not yield to the despondency and discouragement of conflict and tension. Hold me from falling or wavering. Make me able to hold others upright by my unwavering pursuit of a great goal. Move me on by your promise to ensure victory. Give me, old Lord, a word for the churches, especially next Sunday night (September 21) when we meet together. Convince me deeply of the power of your grace to work in people for good the beauty of humble faith in the sovereign God.

God answered those prayers, and five years later The Pleasures of God became a reality (while the merger did not). It seems like my whole life has been one of quiet pleading that I not be sucked into the death trap of management.

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John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.