Out of the Darkness: A Journey into the Marvelous Light
Cortland Jones worked 24 years as a PGCPS Educator, in art and graphic design. Currently he is serving also, as CEO of the nonprofit, The Better Place. Co-founded with two other professional colleagues with ties to the PGCPS school system looking to empower families, schools, and youth in PG County to help create a world where they thrive and encounter wellness through self-control and self-determination in leadership, service, and literacy.
Cortland is the author of Out of the Darkness: A Journey into the Marvelous Light, he is applying principles of faith in empowerment coaching for youth and young adults in applying entrepreneurial skills to start their own businesses. We have conducted an interview with him.
What inspired the content of your new book Out of the Darkness: A Journey into the Marvelous Light?
When I first acknowledged Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I knew He was the Son of God according to what the scriptures teach, but I was not aware of how that understanding of who Jesus is would be a benefit to me. Over time, growing in this faith relationship, it became my desire to create a devotional to help others understand what I grew to know about a faith relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The inspiration to write the devotional came in the year 2000, but it wasn’t until 2005, mired in the misfortune of a failed marriage, I was reading author Max Lucado’s depiction of the woman with the issue of blood’s journey to Jesus that moved me to begin writing Out of the Darkness. His descriptive detail captured my heart and mind making me feel connected to her story as if I was there in that moment and my thought to myself was to want to write like I felt reading this content and I’ve been writing ever since.
How has the journey of writing the book impact you personally?
Writing the content for Out of the Darkness was a nine year journey from 2005 until the book was published in February 2014. The most rewarding impact was the sense of belief of a personal encounter with God as I wrote seeing the content evolve organically in ways that was consistently fulfilling and, humbling, and inspiring. I remember the great sense of accomplishment holding the published content for the first time and deep satisfaction in completing the journey from writing to publishing. I also felt a deep sense of acceptance and appreciation for what life’s journey involved that contributed to the content of the book. It made all I went through worth the outcome, feeling I had a personal encounter of coming out of the darkness in the process of writing and publishing the manuscript.
I have since believed that my childhood fears of the dark and a reoccurring dream I had as a child of being consumed by my bedroom closet was a metaphor of my personal journey, in walking by faith, to resist being consumed by the darkness of this world in my aspiration to live in accordance with the principles of Christ’s teachings. Since the book was published in Feb 2014: I launched my own business, CJones ENTERPRISES, in Aug 2014, was awarded an ACE Educator Award in March 2015, established a nonprofit in Sep 2016, The Better Place, inspired from my aspiration of looking to get to a ‘better place’ transitioning during separation/divorce, and I am currently drafting two more manuscripts; a 31 day devotional for teachers and my children and I are writing a devotional together for parents/teens.
Which was the most challenging factor to publish the book?
Choosing between self-publishing and pursuing the traditional method of publishing was my most challenging factor, because I was not familiar with the self-publishing process at the time I started my journey. Being more aware of the process, through research, positive self-talk, and having confidants to talk out reservations and resignation aided me in transitioning through the challenge of which way to go without being inhibited from continuing the writing process.
The secondary factor was remaining true to my ‘why?’ for writing the book, in the process of writing, and not becoming distracted by factors, internal or external, that can stifle motivation to continue, or cause me to focus solely on the potential financial gain than remaining dedicated to the discipline and craft of writing.
How has this process changed your life?
The published manuscript allowed me to look back and see how the art of writing had been a part of my journey of life since childhood when I had a poem published in my elementary school newspaper, to writing poetry in high school and college, that led to writing poetry inspired from scriptures from the Bible when I became a Christian at age 24. I’ve been journaling since 2003 and in 2012 I began blogging at myimmanuel.wordpress.com and gracetoteach.wordpress.com.
Becoming a published author makes me feel empowered as a writer and passionate about continuing to make use of the craft to benefit and bless others in making the world around me a better place. Opportunities have been offered to ghost write, I successfully published an article titled, A Child Shall lead Them, in Mocha Kid Magazine’s September 2016 issue. I have been hired by two separate organizations as a grant writer and have successfully secured over $5, 000.00 currently in grant applications for school community related projects I have sponsored.
I lead a literacy initiative within my school community, since October 2014 that currently has 5 after school literacy related programs, including a Literature Club with 17 enthusiastic teens wanting to read and talk about books!
What makes you believe the book will be beneficial to others?
3 different individuals shared how reading the book motivated them to want to read the Bible more, which was one of my goals in writing the book. In chapter 8 specifically, insight is shared from my understanding of biblical principles mentioned in the New Testament book of Colossians chapter 3 verses one through three. These principles are relayed in the book as the elevated, expanded, exponential lifestyle one can encounter walking by faith.
I believed my life, since the book was published was unfolding as the principles outlined from the insights shared in chapter 8 of my book. My personal encounter how my own life has been elevated, expanded, and experienced exponential favor in walking by faith assures me and makes me confident what God said He would do for Joshua, as He did for Moses, was meant for me too and any who believe as I do.
I believe the ‘salvation experience’ described in the Bible, is not just about encountering a reservation in heaven, through faith in Jesus Christ, but also experiencing an intimate, personal encounter with the person, presence, and power of God on earth before we get to heaven as described in Psalm 91 when it is written that God desires to show us His salvation.
Why did you title your book 'Out of the Darkness: A Journey into the Marvelous Light'?
The original intent was to title it Salvation: God’s Love Offering through Jesus Christ and it was meant to be a devotional, not a chapter book. As I began to write and saw the content of the manuscript was taking on a life of its own from what was originally intended, I began to research the subject of darkness in accordance with how the Bible writes about it.
It inspired the title from the understanding of my personal journey through my fear of the natural darkness as a child, my misfortune in experiencing sexual abuse and abandonment as a childhood that represents circumstantial darkness, and the reality of sin that became the purpose for God’s expressed love through the life and death of His Son Jesus Christ to aid us in being able to live and thrive despite the reality of the context of spiritual darkness we struggle with daily.
Who or which event inspires you to use this title?
I wanted to use my childhood trauma and adult challenges of divorce, along with interactions I encountered in walking by faith; supported by the principles of scripture to assist others with inquiring hearts and minds to understand God’s plan, purpose, fulfillment, power, and glory in salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
The devotional style writings of Max Lucado were a tremendous source of inspiration and motivation that galvanized and fueled my passion to share in written format my enjoyment of the written word of the Bible.
In the introduction of my book, Alone in the Darkness, I share a reoccurring childhood dream involving my bedroom closet and my natural fear of the dark that provided the platform for the theme and content of my book.
There was a two year period, during the production of the manuscript, I witnessed two different school years from 2005-2007, two different teens struggling with teenage pregnancy and how that circumstantial darkness helped to strengthen their relationship with their parents and experience the redemptive love of God in Christ Jesus that became the source of the content for my explanation of God’s Glory in Salavation.
Listen to our audio interview with Cortland Jones:
Listen to our audio interview with Cortland Jones:
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