I just found out that my friend Stephen Bly passed away. This is how I remember Steve. I never actually met him in person, but several years ago, while working as the editor of a devotional magazine, I read an article he wrote in Moody Magazine (no longer in existence). It was titled, “Leading from the Back of the Line.” It was the kind of article that moved me, not only because of Stephen’s tight writing and beautiful word flow, but because it was from the heart. It pushed against the cultural pressure to put oneself first. IT was the kind of writing I aspired to.
This was in the early days of the Internet, but somehow I managed to go online and find Stephen’s email. So I sent him an email and told him how much I enjoyed the article and asked if we could reprint it in our magazine. He was gracious in return and we got permission from him and from Moody.
Fast forward a few years and I’m working on a proposal for my first book, Teen People of the Bible. I’m a nobody really and yet my publisher wanted some endorsements on the proposal. So I called on some folks I had known from editing the magazine. One of them was Stephen. I sent him an email asking for an endorsement. He looked over my proposal and agreed. He wrote this:
“With tight, crisp writing and straight to the point illustrations, Daniel Darling encourages teens to make their faith real in his book Teen People of the Bible. It’s the kind of book parents and grandparents love to give, and to their amazement, it will be one that kids read.”
That endorsement was huge. My editor later told me that having endorsements like Stephen Bly’s really helped me get that contract. It was a big thing for Stephen to do, to endorse somebody he hardly knew, based on long-distance professional friendship. But that’s the kind of guy he was. I didn’t keep much in contact with Stephen after this, but I’ll always be grateful to him, first for writing an article that inspired a young writer like myself and then for extending himself to endorse a nobody.