Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Elizabeth Ludwig Guest
You see, I like many other struggling authors, wasted months and years thinking there was only one triumph—publication. I missed so many opportunities for rejoicing in what God was doing through the trials.
I first started writing in 2001. I’d written before that, but never with the singular goal of actually becoming published, so for all intents and purposes, we’ll start there. I wrote my first manuscript, sent it off to be published, and was heartily disappointed when it came back to me rejected.
I must be doing something wrong, I thought to myself, and promptly revised my cover letter. It wasn’t until I joined a writer’s group and began to learn the CRAFT of writing that I realized it wasn’t my letter that needed revising.
So, armed with the understanding that I had much to learn, I began attending writer’s conferences. With each passing year, I saw my skill grow. With each passing year, my collection of rejections also grew. I entered what I recall fondly, now, as the desert years.
The desert years were a lonely, desperate time of self-pity and despair. How I wish I had realized then the presence of God in my life. With every tear I wept, He gently and lovingly molded me. Like a potter using water to make the clay pliable, God used my tears to soften and shape me. I’ll never forget the moment the realization hit that nothing, not a moment of time in my long and difficult publishing journey had been wasted.
“Don’t be so focused on the goal that you miss the journey.” (Paraphrased)
I heard these words at a conference I attended. Suddenly, I realized that was exactly what I’d been doing. My goal was publication. Only that. Not the knowledge to be gained along the way, or the friendships forged in adversity. I missed the fleeting opportunities God had prepared to comfort me, and for me to give comfort. Like a darkened landscape exposed by a shaft of lightening, my life suddenly became visible, and I became determined to ENJOY the writing journey God had set me on.
“I thought I was ready to be published at the first conference I went to,” I told a colleague. “I soon discovered I wasn’t. The second conference I attended, I only hoped I was ready. This year, my third conference, I have no idea if I’m ready or not, but God does, and I’m leaving it in His hands.”
What a good decision I made that day. All things are safe in God’s hands, including my hopes and dreams. Once I’d been broken enough to turn it all over to Him, He was able to direct my path. There were still countless rejections to follow, mind you, but none of them ever cast me into despair the way the first ones had. Instead, I saw them as challenges to face, more difficulties to be overcome. Always, my Lord stood beside me, leading me, fighting my battles.
My hope for you, dear author, as you read this, is that you will be encouraged in the midst of your desert—that you will see the promise that is yet far off, and be inclined to wait for it. Our God is faithful, and He has great and mighty things to teach you.
May it always be our goal to accept whatever comes from His hand.
Then the LORD replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. –Hab. 2:2-3