Wednesday 9 September 2015

To know or not to know?

I remember writing in a different blog a few years ago how much I would like to attach a tracking device to my published books. It fascinated me how they would manage to skip across the world somewhere or find their way into a library in some distant part of Australia or get into someone’s hands in a really roundabout way. Yet here we are in 2015—and my tracking device has still not materialised!

I was reminded of this desire again recently when I heard another interesting story about one of my books. At the risk of boring any who read about this last week on my own blog, I will give the ‘potted version’ here.

Recently, a lady came to my home to buy twenty-five copies of my first novel Heléna, published back in 2007. She had found her own copy in a Vinnies store and now wanted to review it at her church’s women’s retreat and have some available on their bookstall!  Also, I discovered she had read several of my other books, including my memoir Soul Friend, which she subsequently lent to a friend who was in a stuck place in her life. As a result, God gave this friend the strength to make some wise decisions and move forward.

How amazing that all this happened because someone found my book in a Vinnies store! Here is an instance where I would have loved that mythical tracker device to show me where that copy of Heléna had got to and how its new owner had gone on to buy more of my books. Then again ... would I really want to know when a book is put aside or thrown out, perhaps without ever having been read?

We may never discover where our books get to or who will be impacted by the words we write. Once we put them out there for all to see, we are no longer in control of the end result. Our task, it seems to me, is to write the things God has put on our hearts and gifted us to write—then let them go. I love author Joyce Kornblatt’s comments on this:

May you all find the true heart of your work and send it out into the world, which might mean to one other person or a wider audience. Doesn't matter. Once you have released it, it is like a bird that will find its own way, branch to branch, tree to tree, land to land. You won't necessarily know how it has travelled, who has been reached and touched, but you have done your part: creating the work and releasing it.  Bearing witness to the life you have lived, and sharing something of what you have understood. Such a good gift to offer.

Yet, just sometimes at least, it is wonderful to hear where those books have ended up, don’t you think? It’s not just a matter of receiving those ‘warm fuzzies’ either. To me, it is God giving us a little glimpse of the difference our words can make in someone’s life and a gentle little ‘well done’ that fills our hearts with a deep and satisfying joy and makes all our efforts worthwhile.

Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of six published novels and one non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and four grandchildren. For more information, please visit


  1. Fascinating to wonder the journey one of our novels may make, Jo-Anne. And what countries they may reside in. I know Angelguard has got to India.

    It reminds me of us being a "link in the chain" of someone coming to know the Lord. More often than not we are just one link and the Lord uses other people as links before an individual receives the revelation of God in their life.

    Lovely post, Jo-Anne.

    1. Thanks, Ian. You know, I'm sure your novel 'Angelguard' would have found its way to many more countries than India too--you might be surprised! But even if we never find out, it's a wonderful thought to know we could have provided one of those links in the chain for someone.

  2. What an incredible story, Jo-Anne. As Ian said in his comment above, it's an amazing thing to consider just when and how our writing may touch someone at a 'just the right moment' in their life journey. A beautiful and inspiring post, thank you.

    1. Thanks so much for your lovely comments, Adele. I hope my story above encourages other authors here to keep going and to believe God can use the stories they write in amazing ways.


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