Sycamore Gap at Steel Rigg, Hadrian's Wall, Northern England

Believing God will do what He’s promised

When God makes you a promise, do you believe Him? What does that look like in your life? Maybe it looks different to different people, but when someone promises to do something for me, generally that means I have to sit back and wait for them to make good on that promise.

Has that happened to you before? Someone promises to do something for you, but they don’t get it done when you expect them to? What do you do? How do you react? And what happens when their tardiness jeopardizes your future plans?

It’s hard to sit still when your future is on the line. It’s hard to sit still and keep waiting on somebody else’s actions when you have the opportunity to make something happen yourself.

So what happens when the person you’re waiting on is God? What happens when the person who’s promised to help you is God and the only assurance you have is His Word?

Sycamore Gap at Steel Rigg, Hadrian's Wall, Northern England

Sycamore Gap at Steel Rigg, Hadrian’s Wall, Northern England

Today’s verses are Hebrews 6:11-12.

Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.

In case you blog readers don’t know (most of you are probably sick to death of me talking about this, but it’s heavy on my heart right now), I am part of a group of writers who’ve decided to start an independent publishing company. It’s ambitious. It’s unique. It’s unusual. And, oh my goodness, it’s expensive.

You never realize just how expensive starting a business is until you do it. I knew it would be, but there’s a big difference between knowing how expensive something will be and actually shelling out the money to pay for it. But starting this small press is something God has called us to do. All four of us believe that with all our hearts, and God has already opened so many doors and shown us in so many ways that this is what He wants us to do.

Paying for it is a necessary investment. But, of course, everything else that could possibly cost me money in other aspects of my life has to blow away, break down, fall apart, or just crap out at exactly the same time.

So when a new, completely unrelated opportunity to make some money drops in my lap, what do you think I thought of? Money! I can make some extra cash to supplement the business.

Great idea, right?

Okay, well, here’s the problem. I’m stretched so thin on time, I barely have time to eat and sleep. I’ve got so many responsibilities weighing on me right now, I can’t keep up with them. I’m doing better, but I’ve had to drop some things. And now I want to add something else in?

So what do I drop? Out of the things I’m doing that God has told me to do, what do I drop to make room for this opportunity to make more money to pay for the dream God has given me?

Anyone see the flaw in that thought?

Why do I think I need to provide for the dream God has given me? Why do I think I need to sacrifice something I’m already sure God wants me to do in order to make room for something else? Why is that responsibility on me?

This is me, remember? The performance-driven perfectionist. The control freak. The micro manager. I love telling God what to do because I know best, right?

Here’s the deal, friends, and I’m still working through this. But following God is a process. God never says it’s anything other than that. Following Christ takes faith, and faith takes a strange combination of hard work and patience.

Yes, I think faith is hard work. Maybe not hard work like hauling feed sacks, but it’s difficult to sit still and let God do the heavy lifting while you cling to Him, especially when you’re used to depending on your own strength to define you.

One thing I’ve learned is that God will never ask you to do something He won’t equip you for. Maybe He’s equipped you already and you just don’t know it. Maybe He’ll equip you along the way, and He just wants you to do it. Either way, He won’t send you out to tackle a job for Him without the support and the tools that you need, and no matter how you look at that, money is a tool.

It’s not your job to worry how you’re going to meet your financial needs. It’s your job to make sure you’re doing what God has called you to do, and God will take care of your needs.

God has made a lot of promises, and He’s kept every single one. And the ones that are still outstanding are just around the corner. We just have to believe that God will do what He’s promised (that’s faith) and hold on until the plan comes together (that’s endurance).

So what am I going to drop so I can make some extra money? Nothing. God has called me to do everything I’m doing. So I’m going to pass on it. Maybe you think that’s irresponsible, and maybe you’re right. But instead of trying to make it happen on my own, I’m going to take God at His word this time, and we’ll see what happens.

Butterfly at the Sedgwick County Fair, Hutchinson, KS

God isn’t finished with you yet

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.

Butterfly at the Sedgwick County Fair, Hutchinson, KS

Butterfly at the Sedgwick County Fair, Hutchinson, KS

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.

A lot.

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.