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Fingerprints of grace

Fingerprints of grace

Fingerprints of grace

14 August 2017

Reflecting on moments of God's grace, following the death of her daughter, Hannah, led Claire-Louise Watson to write about her experiences.

By Claire-Louise Watson

I remember the moment when I held my first published book in my hands. It was a story about a girl and a wolf (or “woof ”as I pronounced it back then).

My words had been typed by the teacher’s aide and I had added drawings to the text. I wrote my name on the cardboard cover and proudly showed my parents. From that moment, I dreamed of becoming an author and illustrator.

After high school, however, I pursued the more sensible option of physiotherapy.

After just four years of work, however, God called me to be an officer. I abandoned my career and once again became immersed in words, or more particularly, God’s Word. I began to write stories again, but they were always incorporated into sermons or articles.

My dream of becoming an author resurfaced during an extended period of compassionate leave following the death of our daughter, Hannah. After years of combining work and childcare, I suddenly had a month to rest and reflect. 

A significant portion of that time was spent on the hard work of grieving, but there was also time to rediscover who I was, aside from any roles or responsibilities.

During Hannah’s time in hospital, I had kept a journal. As I typed and edited the notes, I noticed the numerous moments in which God had revealed his grace.

As I delved deeper into the past and recorded experiences from my youth, I discovered further moments of grace. I did not begin with the idea of writing a book.

Writing was, at that time, a way of processing the tangled thoughts and feelings I had experienced during the previous year. Other people who are grieving find solace and meaning in other activities, such as music, painting or woodwork.

As I neared the end of my leave, I realised I had built the scaffolding of a novel. Overarching and universal themes had begun to emerge, such as freedom, suffering and surrender. Recurring images echoed through the story. 

I enrolled in a Graduate Diploma of Creative Writing at Tabor College, to equip me with the necessary skills to polish my manuscript.

After completing two subjects, I did some substantial editing of the manuscript. There were months when the manuscript consumed my spare time, and other months when I couldn’t bear to look at it. When I reached the limit of my ability, I took the printed manuscript to a Tabor writing seminar, praying that someone would show an interest in it.

A wonderful author and lecturer, Dr Rosanne Hawke, picked it up at lunchtime, then asked if she could take it home. After following her valuable suggestions, I submitted it to Salvo Publishing for publication.

My motivation to write the book was multifaceted. Hannah was unable to tell her own story so I was motivated to write on her behalf.

Since the book has been published, however, many people have shared with me their own story of loss. The death of a child is perhaps more common than we realise.

One of my hopes for this book is that it will assist the journey of healing for others. One of my readers, who lost a daughter to suicide, said that she cried for days after reading the book. Her tears were for her own journey and her emotional reaction, she said, had been a positive experience.

I also felt compelled to write how God had revealed his presence, his power and his love, throughout my journey.

In the darkest moments, God was with me, and at times he revealed himself in surprising ways.

The book is an honest account of wrestling with God, in doubt, anger and fear. I hope that the book encourages others to keep seeking God during seasons of sorrow, uncertainty and pain.

Finally, I was compelled to write the book so that God would be glorified. 

As the blurb mentions, I love to write stories where God is the hero. When writing fiction, I weave faith into the story in a more subtle way, but God is a central character in my memoir.

God wins the victory in the end, even though the beautiful heroine of the story dies. God not only carries her to glory, he leaves a trail of beauty in his wake.

When I was appointed to Busselton Corps with my husband Tim, I prayed that God would be glorified. My prayer was answered, in a way that I would not have chosen but have now accepted.

The poem (below), though not included in the book, expresses my thoughts on the mystery of God’s glory.

God has given us all the capacity to create, so that we may reveal his glory to the world. It matters little whether your gift is in photography, gardening, music, sculpture, computer programming or something else.

Whatever our gift, we can use it to bring honour and glory to his name. In addition, our background and life experiences have combined to give each of us a unique story. Writing a book is just one way to tell a story.

Stories can be shared through visual arts, music and most of all, conversation. Jesus understood the power of story. If we listen to his voice, we will find ways of sharing his story through our own.

God’s glory

I dared to pray for glory:

revival wave, a thousand saved!

God told another story:

a wayward few filled extra pew

and sang anew for glory.

I dared to pray for glory:

torrential shower of healing power.

God told another story:

in suffering face revealed His grace,

as crying she clung to glory.

I dared to pray for glory:

envisaged strong defeating wrong.

God told another story;

The weeds still meet among the wheat.

He stays his hand till glory.

I dared to pray for glory:

impassioned word, the masses stirred.

God told another story:

a child broke bread and all were fed.

He silenced us with glory.

I dared to pray for glory:

enlisting might to win the fight,

God told another story:

in broken ground the fruit was scrounged,

to give him all the glory.

I ceased to pray for glory.

For no words came,

I bowed in shame, caught whispers of a story.

The Father smiled at chastened child,

‘Begin to pray for glory.’


Fingerprints of Grace is available from Salvationist Supplies in Sydney (1800 634 209) or Salvation Army Supplies in Melbourne (1800 100 018) and online from the Koorong.

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  1. Would love to read this book. Will make inquiries how to purchase . Big hug and gods blessing to the author

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