Dikkon Eberhart

Sometimes people wonder to me where a writer's stories come from. Stories are everywhere. There’s no end of them.

I can’t remember where I got this image. It’s been my screen saver for a couple of months. I like it as a screen saver because having it means that each time I boot up, I pause for a moment before going along to email and think “Who are those guys?”

I don’t know yet who they are, where they’re headed in their boat, why they’re going that way, whom they left behind, what they will find when they get to their destination, and what problems they carry with them as they plow through the sea.

This image already is a story; I just don’t know what the story is.

But I have ideas. Having ideas is what makes me a writer.

From the design of the boat and from her rig and sails, I can speculate about time and geography—perhaps 18th century, maybe Dutch.

From the apparent calmness of the two sailors, I speculate that this trip they’re on might be a routine voyage -- maybe a cargo transfer. But what cargo and, more importantly, will their delivery or pick up proceed as expected, or will a problem occur? What might the problem be? For there to be a story at all, there's got to be a problem.

On the other hand, from their apparent indifference to the lack of trim of their flying jib, I speculate either that they may be engaged in some intense discussion or argument right now and have not noticed the lack of trim, or that a sudden squall has caught them by surprise. In either case, this illustration might be the snap-shot of a possible crisis in itself. Is it a crisis in human relations? In commercial expectation? In nautical competence?

Are the sailors men? I assume so—that’s a massive, unwieldy rudder and tiller to manage, and lots of sheets for trimming the boat’s five sails (only four of them set at the moment). Women could sail this boat, but it would be less common than for the sailors to be men. If the sailors are men, where are the women who fit into this picture—possibly below decks? Ashore with children? Nonexistent?

What are the ages and characters of the two men? Are they young and energetic and beginning a commercial or fishing career? Are they old and tired and rheumatic from endless cold and wet and wish this all were over? Is one older than the other and more experienced than the other? Did the younger marry the older’s daughter and does he angle to inherit the boat?

I’ve glanced at this image many times. Dozens of stories are there about the men, each of which could be told and probably never will be.

​I used to write fiction. When I desired to read a novel about a story such as any of those speculated above, and when I couldn't find such a one, I'd sit down and write it myself.

What stories excite you enough to write them out, taking the time and exercising the discipline to follow whatever literary path along which they take you?

Don’t allow 2022 to pass by without writing at least one of those stories through to its end.

My two cents.

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My Kairos Prison Ministry brothers and I, who visit with inmates and have fellowship with them, have freedoms because we are on the outside that they do not have since they are on the inside. But—just like them on the inside—we are confined by walls. Just like them, we are confined by the walls of our sin.

Yes, we can walk out our front doors, get in our cars, and drive up into the mountains in order to walk miles through a forest and listen to birds sing. They can’t do that.

But I tell you, readers, we may drive back to our houses and park our cars and walk back in through our front doors and find ourselves confined by the walls of our sin.

Inside our houses there may be relationship problems with our wives or our children that are persistent. There may be a health problem that frightens us. There may be a financial problem that wears us down. There may be a work problem we have no knowledge how to fix. There may be an addiction problem that forces us to act in a way that is disrespectful of God.

Inside our houses, inside that wide world that appears to be open and free to us, we are confined by the walls of our sin.


We Christians know that Satan exists. He’s why we are confined by the walls of our sin. Satan has existed since the Garden of Eden, and he will exist until he is thrown down in fire by Jesus at the end of the world. His purpose is to create pain and discord and hatred—and then, having been successful, to create even more pain and discord and hatred—among all of the people.

Ultimately he seeks to overthrow God Himself. He wants to BE God.

He cannot overthrow God because God wins. He cannot BE God because God already IS…and because God wins. But in the meantime, Satan can make us writhe with pain and misery and make us blast out at one another in sin-filled ways.

Satan’s power is formidable. But ultimately he is a loser.

All he can provide is hatred and fear and pain. Hatred and fear and pain LOSE in the face of what the Christian Trinity provides, which is love and forgiveness and peace.

So why are we confined by the walls of our sin?

Because there is—and there will be—a struggle within us to do good when we are enticed by Satan to do bad.

Until we find salvation in Christ Jesus, we feel an URGENCY to do bad. It is an URGENCY to hurt—either other people, or ourselves, or God Himself. When we do find salvation in Christ Jesus, immediately our URGENCY disappears.

We still sin—I DO—but our URGENCY to sin disappears.

We are still confined by the walls of our sin—but we are safer, as saved people, within those walls than we were before we were saved.

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I am delighted with you readers!

I am especially grateful to those of you who write me back by email or comment on my posts or on my Salem Web Network articles, but…I am closing my writing down for a period of months.

For closer communion in truth via the Holy Spirit with God, for authenticity in my relationships with others whom I love, and for my future honesty with you readers, I need to concentrate on plain truth and not hide behind the walls of my laptop.

A lot of you readers are writers. I hope you don’t suffer from my malaise. If you do, then pay attention to your suffering. Don’t merely endure it. Fix it.

​My malaise is word-smithing. I’m good at word-smithing. I grew up learning it and hearing it and seeing it honored while I lived among the scores of poets and other writers who peppered my parents’ literary dinners. Later, during 28 years as a salesman on the road, I perfected it.

Any evening, at the hotel, I’d prepare my sales calls for the next day and then gladly enter within the walls of my laptop and, until 2 or 3 in the morning, polish and polish and polish my words written the previous night.

Maybe 100,000 pages—30,000,000 words—who knows?

Ten years it took, but then I had a book. Sold about 4,000 copies—well received; good reviews; hours I spent on national radio shows. (More word-smithing, verbally this time.) Sales are trickling off now, but the book is still in print after 3 years.

And there’s also a new book, now, three-quarters done. It’s waiting within the walls of my laptop to tell me, at last, what it is about…which I don’t know yet.

Its final mystery needs to be anointed with a drop of literary and sacramental chrism. But that can’t happen until I live the book out, in life, and discover what it is about.

And that’s why I’m closing down for a time. To concentrate on living my life out with authenticity, humility, and succinctness.

We are all of us made in the image of God. God did not make us in His image in order that we should merely endure. Sacramentally, we are created beings who must struggle against our sin natures for the purpose of reflecting the glory of God.

Each one of us possesses some of the attributes among all the attributes that are available as the total image of God.

For example, I’ve said that one of my skills is word-smithing, but one of my sins is my habit to hide behind the product of my word-smithing. Sometimes what people I love experience of me is not authentic of me—instead it’s the product of my word-smithing.

Please leave your subscriptions active. That means—don’t do anything about them. They’ll remain active automatically. They cost you nothing, and I am not requesting any time from you…since I’m not sending you anything to read during this time.

I’ll see ya later.

I look forward to it!

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