My Long Highway Home
by Elizabeth Musser
I’m home now. After almost twenty-five years on this writing journey, I’ve finally found my way home.
I certainly don’t mean I’ve found my permanent publishing house. I’ve had four different American publishers and four different international publishers along the way, and the book I just launched was my first indy novel.
I don’t mean I’ve finally settled into the perfect routine, finding the way to balance my 30+ year career in missions with my calling as a writer. I still juggle, after all these years.
Nor do I mean that I’ve become a savvy marketing-social-media-writing genius.
What I mean is simply I’ve come home to accept that my writing life will always be on a roller-coaster. And I’ve come home to embrace the simple truth of receiving what has been given me to do each day, John-the-Baptist-style. He said it first. “A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven.” (John 3: 27)
He made his home in the desert and refused to play the comparison game with his godly God-like cousin. He did his job, and he let Jesus do His. John the Baptist lost his head along the way, doing his job. But he didn’t lose his heart. His heart was Christ’s. All along.
I hope it doesn’t sound heretical to use John the B as an example, but he’s helped me so very much these last months as I’ve delved deeper and deeper into all the craziness of launching a book in this slot of space during the 21st century.
He’s led me home, back to Jesus. Not just back to “Hey, Jesus, help me write this next scene,” but a desperate, “Dear, Holy God, Savior of my soul, I am going to be completely overwhelmed with these tasks before me UNLESS You step in and guide my steps and help me receive ONLY what is given me to do today.”
It’s embracing every aspect of the life I’ve been called to live and living it moment by moment with Jesus.
Oh, I know I was supposed to be doing this all along, from that Sunday morning when, at nine years old, I walked down the red-carpeted aisle to the front of the big Baptist church and gave my life to Jesus.
And admittedly, this 40+ year journey has brought me further and further along the road to total dependence on Him. But it’s brought lots of brokenness too.
Love, love, love this Persian Proverb:
Isn’t that what Jesus does for us? He keeps shining His truth into all the dark places of our heart until we break, we confess, we repent and we cling again to Him. He tears off the layers of pride, one-by-excruciatingly-painful-(at times) one.
Ever since I was six years old, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up—a writer. When at nine, I grabbed onto Jesus, my prayers to Him were often, “If you’ve given me this gift of writing, show me how to use it for You.”
Always, always, Jesus put others in my life to keep the dream alive: my grandmother, my teachers and professors, my husband, our prayer partners who received my quarterly letters from France and wrote, “You have a gift; you should write a book.”
And then, at my first writers’ conference, I re-met a friend and former fellow missionary who was now an editor at a publishing house. He believed in my first story. So after almost thirty years of praying that prayer, from little-girl dreams to young-adult ministry, I received my first contract to write a novel. The year was 1994, and sitting down at my computer to write felt like getting a hug from the Lord. Every day.
I got to do what I had longed for and dreamed about ever since I was a small child.
But I was also living my other dream as a missions’ worker, helping to start a French evangelical church. And that job was not all croissants and cathedrals, wine and cheese. It was so, so very heart-breakingly hard, pouring ourselves out in a land filled with fascinating culture and breath-taking beauty and deep, deep disappointment with God.
I had a husband, two young sons, a missionary team, hundreds of prayer partners to correspond with, a fledgling church and my first contract. Perfectionist that I was (am?), I determined that I should be a full-time wife, mother, missionary and novelist. I literally almost worked myself to death. I got sick. For three long and extremely painful years.
I was broken.
When people used to ask my advice for getting published, I’d say write, write, write and pray, pray, pray.
I still give this advice. But I add, Cling. To Jesus. Like those grapes on a vine. Tenaciously. Please don’t let your dreams outsmart you, so that you think it’s being done for the Lord but it’s really just a lot of stuff being done.
That only leads to me and you being DONE.
I had to choose to be true to my callings, day after day after day, which meant some days were spent writing, some days spent with a struggling young believer, some days were spent in bed, recovering from illness. Some days were so dark that I could only thank Jesus that so many others were interceding for me.
But I held on. Tight. To Jesus.
Finally, after I had clung (clinged??) to that Vine long enough, well, I began to bend, bend, bend.
My most recent part of breaking, bending, clinging and coming home was admitting that, in this slice of life on earth, I had to accept the blood, sweat and tears of the business side of writing as simply a part of the job. Everyone who works has parts of the job that are enjoyable and other parts that aren’t. Did I think I could somehow skip (or at least skimp) on the parts I disliked?
Coming home has meant embracing social media, little by pulling-my-teeth-out little, realizing that although it is crazy time-consuming, it does give even more interaction with my wonderful readers. On my long journey home, I don’t think I would have persevered if it hadn’t been for my readers. “Your books have drawn me closer to Jesus.” “I had strayed far from Christ. Your novel helped bring me back.” “Thank you for writing stories with a soul.”
And in this season of writing, coming home has meant being inspired by true stories of our colleagues pouring out their lives for refugees, and of refugees finding Jesus at a ministry center near Vienna called The Oasis that serves up coffee and Christ.
So I penned The Long Highway Home.
I also came across another quote from the Persian poet Rumi that seemed absolutely PERFECT to add under the Isaiah verse:
I googled the quote again, just to make sure
Sigh. (And you can go ahead and google the quote to find out his name, but please finish reading this post and commenting first.)
Rumi had actually written it. He didn’t. A really weird (living) guy who believes in a lot of weird stuff said it. I couldn’t start the book off with him.
But it’s true, isn’t it? In the body of Christ, we are all just walking each other home.
So today, I want to ask you this: How has Jesus broken your heart and helped you bend thankfully to Him in praise? Are you clinging to Him? Who on this journey of life in Christ has helped walk you home? Anything you need to give up to Him during this Lenten season?
“I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him will bear much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15: 5
Leave a comment answering one of Elizabeth's questions above or just to welcome her, and you will be entered to win a copy of her latest novel, The Long Highway Home.
ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Elizabeth’s highly acclaimed, best-selling novel, The Swan House, was named one of Amazon’s Top Christian Books of the Year and one of Georgia’s Top Ten Novels of the Past 100 Years. All of Elizabeth’s novels have been translated into multiple languages. The Long Highway Home has been a bestseller in Europe.
For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions’ work in Europe with International Teams. The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren who all live way too far away in America. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog. See photos from scenes in The Long Highway Home on Pinterest.
Back Cover Copy for The Long Highway Home:
Sometimes going home means leaving everything you have ever known.
When the doctor pronounces ‘incurable cancer’ and gives Bobbie Blake one year to live, she agrees to accompany her niece, Tracie, on a trip back to Austria, back to The Oasis, a ministry center for refugees that Bobbie helped start twenty years earlier. Back to where there are so many memories of love and loss…
Bobbie and Tracie are moved by the plight of the refugees and in particular, the story of the Iranian Hamid, whose young daughter was caught with a New Testament in her possession in Iran, causing Hamid to flee along The Refugee Highway and putting the whole family in danger. Can a network of helpers bring the family to safety in time? And at what cost?
Filled with action, danger, heartache and romance, The Long Highway Home is a hymn to freedom in life’s darkest moments.