I’ve been writing seriously since I was 11 years old, but when I started back then it was just for fun. It never occurred to me that writing could be something I did for a living. I loved writing books, but I never anticipated that anyone would ever want to read them. My friends changed my opinion on that.
I can’t remember the first time I submitted something for publication. I don’t remember what it was. It could have been a novel. It might have been a short story. I purchased a Writer’s Market Guide every year since 2005, but I know I was submitting before then.
The point is I never got accepted, but I kept trying because deep down inside I truly believed that God had given me a story that needed to be told. And when it was time, someone would publish it.
Today’s verse is Philippians 1:6.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Part of following Christ that is so difficult is believing that He’s still working even when all the doors of opportunity have shut in your face. It happens a lot. Sometimes life shuts the door. Other time people shut the door. And even if you prepare yourself for it, it still hurts.
Especially if it’s someone you care about or someone you respect who’s the one shutting you out or closing you down.
I’ve been working on this story for more than 10 years. I started it in 2001, my freshman year of college, and it’s gone through many revisions and many changes to become what it is today. Everyone who reads it thinks it’s brilliant, but no publisher will take a chance on it because it’s too weird. It pushes too many boundaries. It’s too Christian for the secular market and too secular for the Christian market, so I’ve been tempted to give up on it more than once. I understand what it’s like to pour my heart and soul into something and have someone else imply that it’s not good enough.
For years I’ve questioned God about it. I want to be done with it. I want to move on, but He would never let me give up. Just when I think I’d be finished, He’d bring someone else along to cheer me up, to encourage me, to tell me that it wasn’t garbage. And that would remind me that it just wasn’t time yet.
God has plans for all of us, and He’s promised that He’ll see them through to completion. This verse is really referring more to our life as Christ-followers. When you accept Christ, you don’t become perfect overnight. Your spirit is redeemed, and your soul is saved, but you still have to live with a broken body and a sinful nature. And you still have to live in a sinful world too. Following Christ is a process, and you learn something new about God every step of the way. And God has promised that what He started in your heart on the day you accepted Christ is a process that won’t be finished until Christ comes back for us.
But I think it refers to our dreams too. God gives everyone a dream. Even if you’ve ignored it to the point that you’ve forgotten what it was, you had a dream. God gave it to you. And God never gives us anything without a purpose.
The difficulty comes in realizing that the fulfillment of our dreams won’t look like what we expect. If you want to see your dream become reality, if you want to make the most of your dream, you have to give it back to God, and God will make it bigger and better than you could ever imagine. But it will take longer than you expect, and when it’s finished, it won’t be what you expect either. Because God doesn’t work like we do.
I always knew my book would be published. I just didn’t plan on founding the publishing company that would do it. Beginning in June of this year, my critique group and I will be launching an independent small press, Crosshair Press. I posted all about it on my personal blog a little while back. The four of us felt the undeniable call of God to do this, and to start it only made sense to launch with our own stories, on the off chance it didn’t work. (If we fall on our faces, the only work at risk will be our own and we wouldn’t have jeopardized someone else’s.) Believe me, this wasn’t my idea. I don’t have time for this, but somehow God is making it happen anyway. We’re becoming more official every day; we even have a Facebook that’s got a decent following.
And the fact remains, my unpublishable book will be published in January 2015. Not what I expected. Not even how I expected.
So what’s the point?
Don’t give up on God. Maybe your life circumstances are all working together to discourage you. Maybe people you trusted have turned against you. Maybe you think you’re out of opportunities to try again. Or maybe you’re just so tired you can’t keep going.
Don’t give up. Your dream is still alive, and God’s not finished with you yet. Remember that and keep moving forward. Keep trusting God. He can see how all the pieces fit.
The final product will surprise you, and when you see it, you’ll understand that everything you went through to get there will be worth it.