Turn your face to the sun,
and the shadows fall behind you.
Crocs do it.
Snakes do it.
Even turtles on the lake do it …
And, no, I’m not talking about falling in love, although that’s pretty nice too. Nope, this time I’m talking about finding one’s place in the sun. You know, that warm, wonderful niche where you bask in the glow of contentment so strong, you know you are on the path you should be.
As an author, as a person, as a child of God.
From the time I was a little girl, I always loved the sun because I have a skin condition called psoriasis, so for me, the sun was very healing. In fact, I used to have a photo of myself at the age of 23, laying out on a blanket in my swimsuit next to a patch of snow in 47-degree weather, oldies blasting from my transistor radio. Before I knew anything about SPF, tanning was very important to me back then, because it all but eradicated the psoriasis. So I would simply toss a tattered blanket on the lawn next to my apartment building to block the wind, slather up with lots of cocoa butter, and soak up the warmth of the glorious sun through every pore in my body.
That was right about the time I met another “glorious Son,” who brought the warmth of His love into every pore of my spirit. Sweet Savior of my soul—talk about a “place in the sun”! God took me from a world of darkness as a rejected daughter, taunted sibling, and misguided young woman, into His glorious light, where His love soaked into my every crevice, transforming me into a woman aglow. Suddenly I had answers to all the deep and dark questions haunting my soul, showing me the truth for the very first time.
So two years ago when I embarked upon a month-long fast of various things for the sole purpose (or maybe I should say “soul purpose”) of seeking God’s will about what direction I should take with my writing, I knew He would answer.
And He did.
On the 24th day of my fast, I happened on the following Scripture in my Bible reading, and I have to admit, it felt like a bulls-eye.
Wait passionately for God,
don’t leave the path.
He’ll give you your place in the sun …
—Psalm 37:34, Message Bible
Of course, anything with the word “passion” in it is a bulls-eye for me, so God really got my attention, especially when one more readily associates the word “patience” with waiting on God rather than "passion."
To be honest, all three phrases in this Scripture spoke to me deeply—to wait on God with the same passion with which I long to write books that glorify Him; to not leave the path He has set me on, which is to write stories of passion, both romantically and spiritually; and finally, the promise of my place in the sun. To lay down in His “green pastures” (His will) with eyes closed, soaking up the warmth of the sun (His Son) while I listen to oldies but goodies (the Holy Spirit).
Ah, yes … my true place in the sun!
So I set out to "wait passionately" on God. I pulled away from what I thought was my “place in the sun” — success as a writer — and sought God’s place in the sun instead—His Son. After telling my editor I wouldn’t be pitching another book or series for a while, I put my career on hold to embark on an eight-month sabbatical to focus more on God, family, and writing for the sheer joy of writing.
And what did I learn?
I learned I was a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. You see, the peg was the world’s path to success—writing more, promoting more, blogging more, mastering Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, et al. The problem is that the round hole is God’s plan for my career, and frankly, the world’s peg—or mine—wouldn’t fit, at least not comfortably. And not without a whole lot of scrapes and pain. Because I was trying to force my plan instead of God's, inadvertently putting my writing before Him.
The irony is that I actually thought I had put God first in my life, but the truth was my writing came dangerously close to being an idol sitting right on the throne next to Him. Things like book sales, contest wins, and five-star reviews all but suffocated me with the urge to write better, write more, promote better, promote more, until all the joy God gave me through the gift of writing was sucked dry, leaving me in a very cold and dark place where I could no longer feel the warmth of His sun.
That’s when I figured out that to fit into God’s perfect plan for my life, I had to allow Him to shave off those painful edges and corners (my will and the world’s) that were stopping me from being the author He has called me to be. One who doesn’t look to sales numbers or awards or glowing reviews for their confidence and measure, but to Him and Him alone. For the first time ever, I finally fully understand that His will for my life is the only way I will ever be fulfilled as an author, ever find my place in the sun.
So now when I’m taunted and tempted to backtrack to the world's “square” one, I take a deep, cleansing breath, pray for His strength and peace, and then focus on Him instead of all the stress, demands, and demons of an author's life. It's then and only then that I am finally able to trust Him to slide me into His plan for my life instead of my own, whether that’s according to the world’s definition of success or not. Because therein lies the perfect fit.
For my writing.
For my life.
And for my place in the Son.
Leave a comment to be entered into my giveaway for a signed copy of any of my books, including my upcoming contemporary novel, Unfailing Love, book 1 in the Isle of Hope series, and my Christmas novella in the Home for Christmas Historical Collection to release this October.
Julie Lessman, award-winning author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, and Heart of San Francisco series, was named American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards. Julie has garnered 17 RWA and other awards and made Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction. Her latest novel, Surprised by Love, appeared on Family Fiction magazine’s list of Top Ten Novels of 2014. Her indie book A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers' Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner.
You can contact Julie and read excerpts from her books at www.julielessman.com, or through Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Pinterest, as well as sign up for her newsletter. Check out Julie’s group blog, The Seekers, Writers Digest 2013, 2014, and 2015 “Best 101 Websites for Writers,” and Julie’s own personal blog, Journal Jots, voted blog of the month in the Readers’ Choice poll of Book Fun Magazine.