An Interview with Malo Bel, Author of the newly released book Four Given
Tell us a little about yourself.
Full On Life – I suppose those would be the three words that define me and the life I like to live. Words taken from Jesus’ offer – “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly (full on)” - John 10:10. And so in everything I seek, in Jesus’ power, to live a life of abundance. So whether physical – such as having run many 56 mile marathons, or mental – such as completing a PhD – whether at home with my awesome wife and children or in front of a thousand people, I give my all, through him who gave me all. Yet all of this is so unimportant compared to whom I am related. My dad wrote the world’s bestselling book. He also made the originals that everyone from DaVinci to Michael Angelo copied. And in case that is not enough, he breathed and the stars came into being. He “…merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed, and all the stars were born.” (Psalm 33:6). I am a child of God.
Why do you write the kind of books you do?
Wow. Jesus was different. He did things in a way that shook up society and now is shaking up the world. He thought, taught and touched in ways never heard of - never imagined. And so too, led by his incredible Spirit, I seek to write books that inspire, that touch, that teach – but in a way that is different.
I am passionate to share what it means to live the life that Jesus offers. All too often we as Christians are burdened by sin, or by trying harder, or doing more. Yet we never come to him that we may have life. His message is so simple that we miss it; it is so life-changing that we think it cannot be true. And so I seek to share my own experiences and those I have met in a way that is easy to follow, yet contains the deepest of truths, the most important of messages. Quite simply I am obeying what Jesus said - “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you.” (Mark 5:19)
Why did you write Four Given?
It started on a beach. Near the end of a great, relaxing vacation I was walking by myself towards the beach showers. As I walked I was thinking about my life. Sure it is great in so many ways - after all I was on vacation - but somehow it always seems to be about me. What I want. What I do. And so I asked God - isn't it awesome how we can talk to Him anywhere, anytime? - Well, I asked him, "Lord, how do I let go of me and take in more of you?" However, rather than an answer I got a question back - "How do you let go?" For a moment I wondered, "What? How do you let go?" And then I realized and responded, it's obvious - "If you have to let go something you have to open your hand." It seemed logical to me. I sort of imagined me hanging and holding on a branch - an illustration that would return later when I wrote the story. And then He said, "That is how your journey to me begins, by opening your hand." By this stage I was at the beach showers, and was waiting for two girls to finish. I stood there staring out at the sea thinking upon what He had said. I must begin by opening my hand. What does that mean? An open hand is a hand that gives. My journey must begin by giving. Is that not the defining activity of love - "God so loved the world that he GAVE his only son..." And then it really hit me - the hand, it's the Hebrew letter Yod - and it is the letter that begins the most divine of names. Is it a message to us, a journey we should take? I could feel the overwhelming sense of God's presence wash over me as I sat there lost in my communion with him. An overwhelming joy, a peace, an excitement - there was a discovery, a journey that God was calling me on. But then doubt crept in...Or was it just the vain imaginations of my mind? At that exact moment one of the girls at the shower said, "Excuse me." I turned around assuming they were finished, but she continued and asked, "What are you thinking about?" I was blown away. Why would a complete stranger ask someone they don't know what they are thinking about? How did she even know I was thinking anything and not just staring at the beautiful sea? And so I shared my conversation with her. I was forced to give voice to the conversation in my heart. She smiled and said that it sounded really deep and meaningful. I was left with my doubt washed away, for no sooner had it crept in than God answered me with a voice that I could hear, knowing that my limited faith needed it. And so began my journey, and my calling to write this story, and the beginning of many more miracles.
Was Four Given based on your own life?
Yes and no. Don't you just love answers like that?
Yes because of what I have just told you. Yes because the lessons learned are based on things I have learned through my own life. Yes because, as in the story, my wife has led me to discover many of these life-changing principles. Yes because this after all needs to be every single Christian's journey to meet Jesus. But then it is "no" because this is a dramatized account. Like Jesus, I love telling stories. We can share messages in stories with so many layers of people - from my children to adults, from those who want a cursory read to those who want to look deeper. And so the story unfolded as an icing of fiction upon the most delicious cake of truth.
Is Four Given fiction or nonfiction or a mix?
The story is about a divine journey, hidden within a divine name, and embedded in every single one of our hearts. And so at its heart it is the greatest truth there is, yet it is woven into a story. I like to call it true fiction, or as the movie industry loves to do, say it is "based on a true story". This is my story, your story - because it is the pathway to fully experiencing an abundant life in Jesus that he promised.
Who are you trying to reach with your book?
Firstly I was (and am) trying to reach myself. I have to often remind myself of the simple, yet powerful journey God has designed for us to experience the abundant life. However more than that I am trying to reach two other groups of people. The first are Christians, who maybe like I was, are burdened by struggle. We think that if we do more, try harder, read more, pray more, donate more...we will find this promised life - a life of love, joy and peace. We struggle to be more like Jesus. We struggle against sin. Yet sadly we never overcome. So we grit our teeth and try harder, only to be more disappointed. Yet this is not the path our Lord wants us to follow. It is not about us. It is not about our struggle. It is not about our effort. It is about him. What he has done and what he now does. And so this journey begins with us letting go! That is something most of us are not good at. And so if I can help more Christians realize the incredible, beautiful, super abundant life that Jesus wants us to experience now - if only we will let him - then I will rejoice in what God has done through me. Secondly it is a story for those who are not Christians, or who want to know what Christianity is about. How is it different to other religions? There is one main difference - which sadly many of us have forgotten - and that is Christianity is not about what we do but what Jesus does. Most other religions are about the efforts humans put in to "make the gods happy". Whether it is - pilgrimages or observations of rituals etc., it is all about what we do. True Christianity is ultimately not about what we know, or what we do, but all about what Jesus does in us and through us. It is the most liberating, most beautiful understanding possible. If we can share this with our non-Christian friends, maybe more of them will enter into the life that Jesus offers us. "My yoke is easy and my burden is light" - Jesus.
What is the overall message you want people to take away from Four Given?
The main message is that Jesus is offering us the most beautiful life possible - "I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10) - it is a life filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness etc. Yet sadly many of us are missing out on this for a number of reasons. Firstly because we don't know how to enter this life. We need to realize that entry is nothing to do with our efforts and everything to do with Jesus. Secondly many of us misunderstand what the "abundant life" Jesus offers is. We are often led to believe it is either only something we can enter in the future, or it is a life of happiness defined by money, good health, and worldly success. Yet is it neither of these - it is much more. It is a life we can enter now, a life that far exceeds our vain human understanding of "happiness" - it is a joy despite sadness, a peace despite worldly worries, and a love despite a world of hatred. It is a life that transcends human experience. It is a life we can live now - the life of eternity.
Malo is an animator, why did you choose this as his profession?
Many of the things I chose in the story, I am not sure why I did. Yet when it was all finished - and even now - I am realizing why those aspects are there. I really believe that God guided me, as much as my limiting, take-control character would allow Him. However, why Malo is an animator is another of what I call the miracles of writing. It happened while I was thinking about the story on a long 12 hour drive back home. I was wondering what career Malo should have. Thinking back to Genesis I could see God, in a way, as a sculptor as he took clay and made us. "Should Malo be a sculptor?" I wondered. At the same time as I was pondering this TED talk was playing on the car's audio system - which I was half listening to while lost in my thoughts. The next speaker came on an introduced himself by saying, "I am an animator and learnt this from my father who was a sculptor." Wow! I was blown away. God sure does sometimes talk loudly to me. That was exactly what I was thinking. "Yes, that's it!" I realized. Malo will be an animator because he needs to learn from his Father the greatest of all sculptors. And so was born his career, which plays an important part both in his lows and in his journey to Jesus. His career reminds me of one of my favorite verses from the Message Bible - "Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit" (Gal 5:16)
How long did it take you to write Four Given?
This too was an interesting experience. I did not tell anyone I was writing this book, I wanted to give it to my wife as a surprise for our anniversary. And so I wrote the entire book on my mobile phone, tapping it out with just two thumbs in "stolen" moments waiting outside shopping centers or while sitting on the beach, or just before going to bed. Yet between these moments I was in constant conversation with God, thinking and meditating upon the story. Each chapter seemed to appear only when the previous one was completed. It was as much an exciting journey for me as to what would happen, as I hope it is for those who read it. And so over a period of about 8 weeks I wrote the entire book. Then I transferred it to my computer and did all the final editing, cover design etc. The best part was when I was finally able to give it to my wife as a surprise.
What was the experience of writing Four Given?
I feel that in many ways I am deaf to the voice of God. Yet whenever I open my ears I hear and see Him in the most amazing ways. Writing this book was full of what I call the "miracles of writing". From the very first conception of the idea on a beach, all the way through the writing and even to this day, I am astounded by the miracles that I have seen. I wonder how many more miracles we would all see if only we had the faith to open our eyes and look. Here are just a few of them...
● I was doing a final proof read while sitting - in one of those "stolen moments" in the lounge while the family was watching TV. I was reading a part that has Malo learning a vital lesson from something seemingly obscure - balloon animals. As I was reading this an episode of Myth Busters was on and they used balloon animals to test some myth (it can be seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJyN-IAZCqM).
● I had just written a chapter called "Self Improvement" that is centered around a barn that needs to be renovated. The next day doing our family Bible reading using a plan from the "You Bible" on my iPhone the reading was Galatians 2:16-21 from the Message Bible. Here it talks about if I am trying to be good "I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan." This was exactly what I wanted to say in this chapter. Yet now I realized there was even more that needed to be said, and the fact that it being a barn would play an important part later on in the story with one of the characters. Once again I was amazed at the how many ways God speaks to us, if only we will listen.
● There is a small theme of an orange and blue sunbird that runs through the book - a bird that connects Malo to the eternal place. A bird that not only is beautiful but alludes to he who is the Son. This theme is a golden thread...or orange thread...that connects those who have experienced the life of eternity together. A bird that is unseen or unnoticed by everyone else. A beautiful, bright orange bird that appears right at the end and is pointed out by Dana. I had just completed writing this final chapter and once more an amazing miracle occurred. My wife has been instrumental in my own journey to really discover Jesus. I have been a Christian for many years, but only recently can I say that I have really experienced Jesus in the way he intends. And so my wife Dana, in the story, represents my actual wife in a very real sense. And so it was astounding, having just complete the chapter with Dana and the sunbird, any my wife still unaware of my book that the following happens. We were sitting at the end of the day outdoors, enjoyed a beautiful sunset when she said "Look at that beautiful orange bird" and points to a bird. A bird that I could not see, despite trying - exactly what had happened in the final chapter I had just completed. I'm stunned, yet again.
● It's the end of March and I have completed the book. The journey has been amazing. It's a Sunday and we decide, because we are away from home, to go into a park and all have some alone time with God. I end up seated on a broken concrete block in a quiet place that overlooks a graveyard onto a beautiful mountain vista beyond. Just the place, the need to die before ascending the heights of the mountain, already shouts out to me what I had written in the story. And so quietly I sit there and talk to Jesus. I ask him when he will appear to me like he does so powerfully to Malo in the story. Just then I hear a sound behind me. A sound of a bird calling incessantly from a tree. I turn around and see a beautiful orange sunbird in the tree. It sings its beautiful song before vanishing into the leaves. Can I ever again doubt that he is with me, even to the very end?
Book Title: Four Given
Author: Malo Bel
Released: February 2013
Book Categories: FICTION/Christian/Mystery & RELIGION/Christian Life/Personal Growth
Keywords: life, renewal, Jesus, mystery, Godliness, secret, Christ, Christianity, inspirational, religion, Yahweh, Jehovah, inspiration, Christian, God, time travel, fantasy, growth, faith, suspense, personal growth, Christian Life, religion, fiction, fantasy, spiritual growth
The mystery of Godliness and life eternal are hidden in the most sacred place of all, in the holy letters that define God. A mystery so divine, so life-changing, so real it is embedded in the essence of every human being. A mystery that charts a divine path to God, a journey that once undertaken will bring you to a place called Eternity.
Join me as I share my journey, as I am led by Him on His path. This is the mystery of Godliness and life eternal, and I never would have seen it had he not opened my eyes. Take the step of faith and your eyes will be opened to see "inexpressible things". Take the step of faith and discover life eternal today. Take the step of faith and discover the beauty of this divine path hidden right before you. Take the step of faith and you will never be the same again. I did and that is why I must tell my story.
Contact Details and Websites for Malo Bel
Amazon Author Bio: http://bit.ly/malo-bel