Deadline was my very first novel. I am still amazed by its ongoing impact. And so grateful.
Because it was my first fiction book, and therefore, I didn’t know what I was doing, I think it is probably the poorest written of any of my novels. Yet certainly God has reached far more people through it than, for instance, one of my later novels, a book the publisher was certain at the time, would affect far more people. Though that other book has certainly been used by God to touch many, it shows that neither I nor they knew what God was going to choose to do through Deadline. I’m so glad that’s true!
Despite the fact that I finished writing it in 1993, twenty-eight years ago, in the last few months, our ministry has received multiple reader responses to Deadline. I have long believed that the Holy Spirit providentially brings certain books to the fore at certain times, touching many hearts even with older books and sometimes not bestsellers. For example, it seems like years go by and no one says anything about Edge of Eternity, but then out of the blue in a single week we get three letters from different parts of the country, or world, about how it changed people’s lives. Same with Money, Possessions, and Eternity; If God Is Good; Safely Home; and others. Each time it makes me smile because it’s not just a weird coincidence. Our God of providence is choosing to work in His own time and way. One of the countless things I love about Him!
Here’s a touching letter a reader sent me last week:
On May 4, 1997 my father finally made his way back to God. You see, he had a very turmoil-filled few years where he lost his faith, made some poor decisions, and just doubted God’s love for him, like many of us do. But that lovely Sunday morning he got up, got around, and took myself and my brother to church for the first time in months. It was wonderful, my grandmother was astounded and cried tears of joy and praises to God for this day. She has a warrior’s heart and the moment my father started to doubt God’s love, she fervently started to pray for him. They had had a falling out, and were not talking as much as they normally did, but through it all she knew that God was faithful and would deliver my dad from this dark hole he spiraled into.
And she was right. A few weeks previous…she had prayed and asked God for a way to speak to my dad. And she was nudged to go to the local Christian bookstore. She looked and just couldn’t find anything worthwhile, so a gentleman came over and asked her how he could help. The associate listened to my grandma and the story of my dad patiently. When she finished, he instantly said, “I know the perfect book.” He led her to a bookshelf and picked up Deadline.
She gave it to my dad and made him promise to read it. He devoured it. The Sunday he finally packed us all up and went back to church he had two chapters left.
The following Monday, May 5, 1997, he called my grandma, and they had a fantastic talk and he thanked her for never giving up on him. He told her he finished the book she got him, and he said she should read it. He said the ending will surprise you.
After that call ended my grandma prayed and thanked God for everything. She said, “God filled my heart with the knowing that your daddy’s heart was back with Him!” She has told me this so surely my whole life, I have no doubt. That night our lives changed forever. My dad went to be with the Lord.
It was a freak reckless driving accident. My dad was killed instantly. His best friend [died] the next night in the hospital. It mirrored your story so much, that it’s been difficult to read your book for years. I finally started it last night.
I say all of this as a thank you! Your book and countless prayers from many are some of the reasons that I know I will see my daddy in Heaven again. That our story is truly just on hold until we are reunited with our Lord and Savior forever. —E.H.
And here are six other notes we’ve received over the last few months—trust me, no one is more surprised than I am we are still getting them!
Your description of the man entering Heaven and meeting Jesus was one of the best things outside of God’s Word that I’ve read. Unbelievably impactful. I wept as I read it years ago and wept as I shared it with my Sunday school class. It still moves me. —J.M.
You will always be in my heart and prayers as the person who wrote Deadline that brought me to my knees and into eternity with Jesus. —P.S.
Deadline gave me my first glimpse into the fullness of Heaven which helped Heaven to become a living reality. It also sent me on a search for understanding more of the more that God has prepared for us. Today, I see Heaven. And I see my husband worshipping our God with all the saints who have gone before him. So while the process of dying still offends my senses I nonetheless look forward to an endless life of sinlessness in the presence of our holy God. Thank you for writing Deadline, Randy! —S.S.
I hate to read. I am sure it’s some undiagnosed learning thing. The Lord had me read this [Deadline] right before we adopted our son who turned out to have a rare birth defect. He was diagnosed around the time I read this book. It brought me the most amazing amount of peace. It helped me so very much during some of the darkest times. Reading about the Down syndrome topics in this book was AMAZINGLY helpful. I also LOVE your imagination of Heaven. When I think of the part that talks about how all the angels wanted to go through the portal to stop the “puny men” from hurting our LORD... I sobbed for hours after reading that. You, dear man, have given us a glimpse of Heaven....thank you from the bottom of my heart. —J.J.H.
I am just finishing your novel, Deadline—wow! When I saw you included scenes of Heaven, I was prepared for something lame, frankly, but they were both biblical and realistic! Thanks for a great read! —D.F.
Not long ago in one of your posts you referenced a book you had written years ago. Since I had read your book on Heaven, I wanted to check out this one you talked about, Deadline. Oh. My. Word. Though published in ‘94 it’s a mirror of deeper understanding to me today. You mentioned matters in this book I had never heard of but KNOW they are happening NOW. I’m almost finished with this book and will be passing it along as one of the most timely books of our day in 2021! —A.R.