Published in 1991 as the Introductions to the Bethany House devotional editions A Time to Grow and A Time to Harvest
Scottish novelist and poet George MacDonald (1824-1905) was a writer of such depth and diversity that his books often seem daunting at first glance. If his complex thoughts and lofty spiritual ideas are not enough to overwhelm some, the Scottish dialect in many of his novels can intimidate the most adventurous of readers. Add to this the fact that most of MacDonald’s books are over 400 pages in length—sometimes even five, six, or seven hundred in their original editions—and it is not difficult to understand why his readership in the past has been loyal but rather small.
I am one of those few loyal readers, and years ago was born in my heart the vision of reintroducing MacDonald to today’s readers. I was pleased to find a publisher who shared this vision, and Bethany House Publishers and I teamed up to select, edit, and publish eighteen of his novels to date. The number of books sold since the first one, The Fisherman’s Lady, was published in 1982 has been gratifying, and even more so are the personal responses from new MacDonald fans.
For years my good friends at Bethany have talked about MacDonald devotional books comprised of brief passages from some of his novels. Our hope is to offer concise selections that capture some of the insights and perspectives. For readers familiar with his books, such passages in a devotional format can serve as rewarding reminders of past reading experiences as well as become vehicles for personal encounters with God. For those still unfamiliar with MacDonald, these devotional excerpts offer an introductory exposure to George MacDonald’s deep spiritual insight through the characters and events in his novels. Appropriate poetry pieces and parallel selections from his sermons add further insight into MacDonald’s breadth of spiritual understanding.
We have built this series of devotional compilations on a seasonal theme, since the yearly changes of nature played such a prominent role in MacDonald’s own life and in his stories. A Time to Grow centers on a summer theme, A Time to Harvest on an autumn theme, both literally and figuratively. The publisher and I invite you to let these devotional readings make a time for growth in your own life.
Michael Phillips, 1991