I am still in awe that one year ago today, I had not even thought of updating one of the world’s most popular books, The Imitation of Christ! This book has been miraculous from the very inception!
• In spring of 2015, I woke up one morning thinking, Someone needs to put Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ into modern language and organize it into devotions. (Whenever you think Someone ought to do something, it’s often God saying, “Yep! And that someone is you.” On a lark, I pitched the idea to my agent. My agent emailed back the same day writing, “It’s brilliant.” In ten years, my agent had never called any of my pitches brilliant. Miraculous!
• Within 13 days of sending the proposal to publishers, my agent had an offer from Worthy Inspired. (Publishers often take three to six months to decide on a proposal.) Miraculous!
• They offered a generous contract for both hard cover and leather! (I’ve never had a book even in artificial Naugahyde.) Miraculous!
• They decided to rush the book and have it on the shelves in hardback in time for Lent 2016, and then re-release it in leather for Advent 2016. (Again, publishers can take up to two years to get a book into print. It was just nine months ago that we signed the contract! And I’ve never heard of a book getting two marketing promotions.) Miraculous!
• In the past, I’ve been given up to a year to complete a book. I had it written, vetted by my good friend and Catholic scholar, Michael Fraley, and to the publisher within two months—six weeks early! I’ve never felt such a sense of worship while writing a book. And I learned so much about imitating Christ writing it. I trust that readers will also experience worship and learn from it. Miraculous!
• When I nervously approached the publisher that I didn’t think the cover really appealed to the cross-over market, they went back to the drawing board and created the beautiful cover above. (Publishers rarely give authors input into the cover. And never go through 15 revisions! Miraculous!) And when I wasn’t comfortable with the sub-title, they took it back to marketing committee and provided the new subtitle. (Publishers rarely give authors input into titles and subtitles.) Worthy Inspired is a wonderfully weird publisher. Nothing about the process has been typical! I love everyone on the team! Miraculous!
• Buoyed by the amazing events in the production of this book, I decided to go way out on a limb and ask for endorsements from some of the biggest names in the Catholic and Protestant church. Okay, I didn’t have enough faith to ask the Pope and Billy Graham, but I did ask Timothy Doloan, the archbishop of New York, and Jo Anne Lyon, a White House adviser for presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and general superintendent of the Wesleyan Church. They both graciously said yes. (See below.) Miraculous!
• In each step in the process—researching, organizing, editing and writing—I have sensed “his mighty power at work . . . to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21). Miraculous!
• For the past few years, I have been sensing Jesus saying to me, “I must increase; you must decrease.” So, I’m totally happy that CHRIST is in 48 point print and my name is in 12 point print. Miraculous!
• And so, I am expecting Jesus to accomplish something infinitely more than I can think or imagine. Thanks for walking this amazing journey with me. I do pray that Jesus will increase and I will decrease as this miraculous book releases tomorrow. (I was surprised at the number of books sent to book stores, just ready to be sold.) Jesus gets all the praise for how he uses it to increase the number of followers who truly imitate him! I so want to be able to say, Miraculous!
Please join me Tuesday (January 12) from 6-10 pm for the official launch party with trivia contests, autographed book give-aways and more. (And I guarantee it will be more fun than watching what’s pre-empting your favorite TV show Tuesday evening.)
What others are saying
“The Imitation of Christ is one of the great spiritual works of the Church. More than five hundred years later, it remains not just a classic, but a road map to the life the Lord wants each of us to live.”
Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan: Archbishop of New York
“This book makes me angry. Not only because I didn’t think of it, but also because I could never have done the thorough, sensitive, beautiful job James N. Watkins has done in updating Thomas à Kempis’s, The Imitation of Christ, into a modern classic of ninety riveting readings. I need this book. And so does everyone I know.”
Bob Hostetler, best-selling author of Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door
“This influential book is an incredible gift to this century. James Watkins has stayed true to the original text but in language that continues to speak from the soul of Thomas à Kempis to the soul of a twenty-first century seeker. A message for which our world has deep hunger. This is literally a soul-changing, ultimately world changing book; a must for every person serious about being a Christ-follower.”
Jo Anne Lyon: White House adviser on faith, general superintendent of The Wesleyan Church
“The Imitation of Christ devotional is truly a gift to the church. Watkins provides timeless, profound truths in everyday language, introducing modern Christians to the power of Thomas à Kempis’ words and life’s work. A deeply moving, wholly convicting, and truly life-altering book.”
Mary DeMuth: author of Worth Living: How God’s Wild Love for You Changes Everything
“Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ is a timeless classic. Watkins has succeeded in providing a clear and accurate rendering of this great volume for a new generation of Catholic and Protestants alike, while avoiding modern idioms that would date the text. I’m looking forward to reading this many times.”
Rev. Randolph Sly: Priest, Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter
“Each morning I eagerly go to this modern version of The Imitation of Christ knowing it will convict and teach my spirit, giving me spiritual focus throughout the day. It is the best devotional I’ve found in many years.”
Lissa Halls Johnson, author and speaker
Browse and buy
About the book
• About Thomas à Kempis
• Read an excerpt
• My exclusive interview with Thomas à Kempis
• Daily quotations: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
• The story behind this book
• Barnes & Noble
• Christianbook hardcover eBook
And it’s available at book stores everywhere. (I love being able to say that!) Miraculous!
You can help spread the word through your social networks. Post a review on book sites. Mention it on your blog or website. Have me speak at your church. Drop copies of this post from a blimp. Be creative! I so appreciate your prayers and support!