Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Admit it. You’re wondering WHAT ON EARTH can that title possibly have to do with writing?
Well, let me jog your memory. Some of you may remember the story from the Old Testament (Genesis 24 to be exact) about Abraham’s quest for a bride for his beloved son Isaac. Unfortunately for his chief servant, who has been entrusted with finding just the right daughter-in-law for his master, the responsibility entails a journey to distant Mesopotamia (a little more effort than mouse-clicking on eHarmony).
When at long last one evening the chief servant and his ten camels arrive at Abraham’s old family homestead, he’s one tired camper. Has the running-on-empty camels kneel down near the spring-fed well outside town. But now what? How is he going to get these road-weary beasts refreshed? The New International Version of the Bible notes that “chief servant” can also be translated as “oldest” servant. So this guy very likely isn’t a buff twenty- or-thirty-something. The prospect of such a physically gargantuan effort as hauling mega-gallons of water may not even be an option.
So he prays that God will grant him success on his search for a bride---and get the camels watered, too. “See I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when I say to a girl, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’ – let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”
Before he’s even finished praying, here comes the beautiful Rebekah with a jar on her shoulder. Hmm. Surely this pretty little thing can’t be the one to tackle such a task as he needs done. But she goes down to the spring, fills her jar, and when Abraham’s servant asks for a drink, she gives him one. And then—you guessed it—she says: “I’ll draw water for your camels, too.”
Whoa. Now I don’t know the dimensions on a camel’s “water tank,” but I imagine filling up ten beasts of burden isn’t an easy feat for any young woman. But Genesis says she fills the trough again and again, drawing enough water for all of them.
To make a long story short, the chief servant pulls out a couple of bracelets and a gold nose ring, hoping that Rebekah’s kinsmen will let her “Say Yes to the Dress.” Which they do--and off goes Rebekah to her one true love.
Ahhh, happily ever after.
But I imagine there’s more to this story.
Behind-the-scenes stuff, you know?
Like I bet that night wasn’t the first time Rebekah went out to the well. Think about it. You don’t just skip out to the spring one evening and draw enough water to fill ten thirsty camels unless you’ve built up some major muscle. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year.
And I bet it wasn’t the first time Rebekah offered to help a total stranger. The man didn’t tell her he was the chief servant of one of her relatives until she’d already made good on her promise. No, Rebekah’s character had developed to the point where keeping faithful to the daily routine, serving where God asked her to (even in the seemingly insignificant things), had become ingrained in her.
God’s hand was in the bringing together of Isaac and Rebekah—but Rebekah had to do her part, too. She had to cooperate, be faithful to the routine, in order to be in the right place at the right time.
Maybe at the beginning, when the experience was fresh and new, she found herself excitedly trotting out to the well with all the other women. It seemed fun, an adventure, so full of expectation that her Prince Charming would soon put in an appearance. But as the days and months and years passed, had the routine lost its charm? Had there been days when the effort seemed without purpose? Same old path. Same old jar. Same old familiar faces at the well. Same backbreaking work to water those big ugly animals?
Who knows, perhaps that very night--the one that would turn her life upside down--she’d even been tempted to hide out in the tent. Do her nails. Surf the net. Catch the season finale of CSI. After all, wasn’t tonight just another camel-watering night like all the rest?
But she made a choice. Threw off her lethargy and stuck to the routine. Grabbed the jar. And off she went to the well once more. And to her destiny.
I think writing with a dream of publication often has a lot in common with Rebekah’s watering of the camels. You’re filled with promise and expectation when you first feel that tug in your spirit that says “write a book.” The fulfillment of your dream seems just around the corner. So close you can almost touch it.
But oftentimes it turns out to be an unexpectedly BIG “around the corner.” Time passes. The excitement, the inspiration, the immediacy of it fades. The dream becomes worn around the edges. A little tattered, for much about writing a book is routine. Day in and day out. Maybe an occasional contest win. A word of praise from a judge. But those can be few and far between. Most days you’re planting yourself down in front of the computer with no more sense of anticipation than you might have for throwing in another load of laundry. Vacuuming the living room. Cleaning the bathtub.
I know for myself I came THIS CLOSE (thumb and index finger pinched tightly together) to scrapping the routine. I’d been writing for years. Faithfully reading books, taking on-line workshops, and listening to tapes on the craft of writing. Faithfully logging in my word counts. Entering contests. Getting feedback.
But I was becoming weary, from the shores of Unpubbed Island, of scanning the horizon for ships’ sails. Finding time to write in the midst of a demanding day job was no easy task. Other worthy visions beckoned. I was no longer even certain that I wanted to keep trying to get off the island! I mean a comfy hammock strung between shady palm trees, gentle waves lapping on the sandy beach, and all those yummy coconut treats … Life was good, wasn’t it? Faithfully watering island camels seemed less and less appealing as the handwriting on the wall loomed large: MAYBE THIS DREAM IS NOT FOR YOU.
But last year I prayerfully made a decision. A choice. And with the encouragement of my family, my faithful Seekers, and renewed strength and determination provided by my Heavenly Father, I set out once more to water the camels. One more time. And that was the manuscript for which I got the long-awaited “Call.”
If I’d hidden out in the tent, ditched the water jar, refused to be true to the routine, my very first published book wouldn’t be released this month.
So don’t give up. Like Rebekah, make a decision. Keep watering those camels.
Leave a comment today with your email address (remember use “at” and “dot”), and be eligible to be included in a giveaway drawing for a copy of my first book, “Dreaming of Home.” The winner will be announced in the Seekerville weekend edition.
An ACFW "Genesis" and RWA Faith, Hope & Love "Touched by Love" award winner, GLYNNA KAYE'S first published book DREAMING OF HOME is an October 2009 Steeple Hill Love Inspired release. http://www.glynnakaye.com/