Maybe you noticed and maybe you haven’t, but it’s been almost a month since I last posted. Considering my history of posting weekly this was a bit of a shift for me. I thought about letting you all know that I would be absent for a while, but I realized basically I would have just been posting to tell you that I wasn’t going to be posting. I decided instead to just explain when I showed back up, particularly since I wasn’t sure when that would be.
As most of you know, I am not just a blogger, I am also a Christian young adult fiction writer. Last year 2020, I launched my 2nd published fiction book entitled The Tournament’s Price. It’s the first book in a series, and I definitely left the reader at a cliff hanger. So over the last year and a half, I have been working hard writing the second book The Rebel’s Mark.
The plan was to have The Rebel’s Mark, done, published, and in hand by the 2021 conference season, which for me starts in June this year. Unfortunately the best laid plans don’t always work out the way we want. Have you ever been frustrated that your plans weren’t working? Have you ever put in all the effort on all the days and still not reached your goal? Have you ever been tempted at that point to quit? Over the last several months, I certainly have been.
I’ve come to the conclusion more and more that writing is a lot like inventing. You have this thing in your head you want to create, but it’s never been done before. There is no label telling you it will require this set of skills, this many tools, and this many hours. Instead it’s a blank page, an imagined story, and a word count you are hoping to reach at the right point.
A lot of things God asks us to do in life don’t have a box with a clear picture of the results, a label telling us exactly how to do it, or a displayed timeframe of exactly how long it will take us. It can feel frightening and overwhelming when we don’t know what it will cost us or how much. But the question is, do we trust the He who has given us the assignment will be faithful to help us?
Trial and error in writing is a big part of the process, and it eats up a lot of hours. I often joke in frustration about feeling like Edison during his light bulb experiments. “Well, today I found one more way not to write this scene.”
Edison didn’t count his experiments that didn’t produce a working light bulb as failures. I find this fascinating, because it’s really easy for us to think of time spent without reaching a desired result as “wasted time” and those experiments that didn’t reach our desired results as “failures.” Maybe the results we encounter aren’t the exact ones we wanted. But are we allowing God to direct our steps and teach us along the way so that we get to the results that He wants, or do we quit because we don’t have the results we wanted when we want them?
At times I can be a bit of an efficiency freak. So you can imagine I like the concept of the shortest path between two points being a straight line. However, what if the shortest path isn’t actually the best path? Mountain roads come to mind. These seem so inefficient, however, going straight up a mountain is not just extremely difficult, it also means that your only focus along the way is on the top of the mountain. Which means you miss all the incredible vistas that you could have been enjoying along the way, and when we miss the beauty of the climb, we tend to have trouble sharing that beauty with other people. Some people call these the confessions of faith. The moments we paused and get to speak about what God has done.
I honestly think this is a big part of why God commanded us to take a Sabbath. I think Sabbath is like the overlooks on those mountain roads. A moment to pause and remember who you serve and to tell people why you are making the journey.
“Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD.” Exodus 31:15
“And [Jesus] said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’” Mark 2:27
I wanted to get my second book done, since by my calculations I was way behind schedule, but every time I tried to work faster, I would get stalled out. Extremely frustrated I asked God what in the world was going on. Over the next several days He began pointing out all these things that I had been overlooking. Slowing down meant that I had to take a second look and see things in a new light. Have you ever had times where God has brought you to a stand still in order to show you things you have been missing?
Long story short. I shifted my focus from the top of the mountain and from scrambling to get everything done, to instead looking at the journey and figuring out what God wanted me doing. I spent the last month finishing up The Rebel’s Mark, and I was able to send it out to beta readers last Monday.
It has been a very long journey, at least by my standards. And it’s not over yet. The project won’t be published when I hoped it would. It doesn’t look like I wanted it to look. And there is still a lot of work yet to be done, but I didn’t quit. I am confident God has and will continue to help me along the way. And I think I have learned better how to see God in the moments of delays and to pause and look to the vista of what God has already done and bring that beauty into my life and work.
Challenge: Pause and remember to see what God has done and is doing. The time He takes and is encouraging you to take at the overlook is not “wasted” time!