Read: 2 Chronicles 17:1-20:23
I entered into the Xulon Christian Publishing Contest over the weekend and the winners were announced this morning. I was positive that it was God‘s will for me to enter (and I still am) but because of that I was also positive that I would win the grand prize publishing contract as well. I did not. From the time I got the first email about the contest until now I have been trying to push down the hope that it brought with it. I was trying to deny that I WAS hoping to win, to have my time and dedication and talent validated in a public way. But today my pain-filled tears are betraying me, I did so desperately want to win that contest. And as desperately as I have fully embraced the gift of online publishing and digital media, apparently there is still a shred of my heart that is tied to the physical realm of publishing.
I do want to hold my printed published book in my hands, clutched to my chest like a newborn infant. I want to turn the pages and see the ink on them; to smell their freshness like a baby‘s head. So often in the last three years of being a writer I have referred to book writing as having a child; the waiting, the false labor pains, the anticipation of what it will look like and feel like. It‘s nothing like being pregnant and yet at the same time there are similarities. Over the years I have been so anxious to get that precious piece of my heart published, recognized, validated as a word from God for His people. And through those years there have been momentary opportunities like a window in heaven opening and allowing me to see the possibilities of what might be. And I get my hopes up that this opportunity might be “the One“, my time to shine like a light on a stand or a city on a hill. Nope. Not this time; at least not in the way that I had hoped.
I don‘t know, maybe I‘ve set my hopes too high, but if there‘s any other way to set them I just don‘t know what it is and can‘t seem to do it. I am writing this through clouded vision as hot tears of frustration and disappointment fall down my cheeks. Why do I have to hope so? Why do I try so hard to please? I tell you I can‘t help it, I‘ve tried not to and I just can‘t seem to stop. I pray that God finds pleasure in my attempts at human success. I‘ve begged Him to show me that He is not angry with me or upset with me. I do my best to do it all for Him. And that‘s all I can do, try.
But I want to do more than try. I want to succeed. I want to succeed in my own eyes. I want to succeed in my family‘s eyes. I want them to brag about me and think that I have the gift that I know I have. I want to make them proud. I want to make my husband proud. I want to make my God proud. I want to make Him happy and smile. But I don‘t know how to make that happen. I can‘t make that happen. No matter how hard I try to be a good writer or a good mom or a good wife, I know that I can‘t do it alone. I know that I need God to make that happen. And I have God. And I lean on Him so hard for everything.
So why do I feel like it‘s not happening then?
My poor sleeves are drenched in tears and snot… why don‘t I have tissues on my desk??? Ugh!
God sent me an email last Wednesday letting me know about the writing contest. Then that afternoon He gave me a Willow figurine, “Angel of Wishes“ with the phrase “May you always hold on to your dreams“ on the card. Well I have a dream of being a print published author, and I have held on to that dream and let go of that dream so many times it‘s not even funny! So I don‘t see how there is a right answer to this problem other than waiting. But in the words of my four-year-old, “I don‘t want to wait“. But just like her, I don‘t have a choice because the publishing world is out of my control. I have no say over when it will get published or how or if ever at all.
But I do have control over something though. God has blessed me with this blog. So I will do my best to turn away from the again closed door and return my focus to where it belongs, on Him and His glory. I will stop dwelling on the dark cloud and instead gaze at the beautiful silver lining. Professional writers/editors/judges read something that I wrote. And while it cost me a pricey $39 and they may not have judged it worthy of a premier publishing package, they still read it. I pray that the message within its text was well received. The contest theme was “tell us your story“, so of course; I told them my story in less than 750 words, which was really hard for me as you well know. Anyway, here it is, I pray that you enjoy it.
Three years ago my husband and I hopped onto the Spiritual Underground Railroad and made the biggest discovery of our lives. God! Now, it‘s not like we didn‘t know God before that time, we actually both grew up in the Church but we didn‘t really know Him. Up to that point we had a religion; then Jesus came and turned our world right side up and things haven‘t been the same since!
The moment of our big revelation came when I was standing at my kitchen sink doing the dishes when a movie line floated through the kitchen from the living room “Old sins cast long shadows“ (Star Wars the Clone Wars – Yoda). My husband and I had been having some serious marital issues and I had been doing some serious praying about them, at that moment no less! It might as well have been God Himself floating through that room as powerful as that message was for me. In that single life-changing moment I knew the reason of our pain and stress and frustration, it was sex! We had not waited until we were married to have sex and it had cursed our relationship ever since. Somehow, deep down, I had known the cause was sex all along but I had never been bold enough with my husband to take the time to address the issues it had caused. That fateful day I sat down at my computer searching through the scriptures for the answers I had been searching for my entire life. I started searching for God‘s wisdom and God‘s knowledge instead of worldly wisdom and knowledge. And I found it! God led my husband and me through a thirty day journey that we will never forget and will never stop thanking Him for. During those days we fasted from sex and focused instead on God and His plan for our marriage. He taught us that the curses that are brought on by sexual immorality are only broken through fasting and prayer, which is why sexual immorality is one of the few things that the apostles suggested that the Gentiles not do; it‘s that serious.
Not that our society thinks that is it though! The way that I drew closer to God during those thirty days is I devoured Hannah Gresh‘s And the Bride Wore White: 7 Secrets to Sexual Purity. Through the entire book I kept screaming at the pages “Why didn‘t anybody tell me this before?!?“ Had I only but known what the consequences of my actions would be, if only someone would have told me, I wouldn‘t have done what I did. I felt like someone somewhere should do something about the sexual plague that is sweeping our world today and I came to realize that God wanted that someone to be me. So I vowed then and there to devote my life to bringing people into intimate relationships with God; in order to bring them into intimate relationships with each other. I want to teach them what God‘s radical love does to us; how a truly intimate relationship with Him changes every other relationship in our lives. When we seek Him first everything else falls into place, everything. When we rest in the arms of the Almighty God who created us for His own good purposes, we are then able to rest in His finished work of the cross. We are able to see our deliverance from the Enemy and all the forces he has unleashed against us by allowing God to open our eyes to His goodness and faithfulness. God‘s love for us is like the most luxurious of chocolates, sweet, smooth, decadent and abundant. His love can melt our stone-cold hearts into hearts of flesh and turn our icy marriages into a steamy, joy-filled union of souls for Christ‘s glory by drawing us into intimate relationships with Him.
Before our sexual revelation my husband and I were never able to fully complete each other because we never had Christ‘s cross between us; He was merely next to us. But now Jesus‘ work is what holds us together. It‘s His hands that bind us, His heart that fills us, His sacrifice that cleanses us and breaks us free from every chain that could ever try to bind us from Him and the abundant life that He offers. Christ‘s sacrifice is not only sufficient, it‘s perfect. Period.