Wheat almost ready - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Who needs a paycheck?

I’ve been praying for my neighbors because we are hovering on the edge of one of the most amazing harvests I can ever remember. The wheat has never looked so beautiful. The photo for today comes from a week or so ago, and since then most of the fields around my home have turned almost completely golden. There’s no sight like it on earth.

Now if we can just hold on for a few more weeks with no major storms, no major floods, Kansas could have a very good year. And about time too. It’s been a while since we’ve had a good harvest in these parts.

I think farming and writing are very similar in some ways, especially when it comes to harvests. Because in both professions you can pour your heart and soul into what you do and never see a positive financial return. You can farm and farm until you’ve planted acres and acres of every crop, and (at least in Kansas) one bad storm can wipe it out. It has nothing to do with your dedication; it’s just life.

Writing’s the same in some cases. I realized the other day that I’ve been writing for almost 20 years, and I have yet to see an actual return on any of it. Granted, I only started letting some of that writing out into the public eye in the last five years. But still. If you run the numbers, you can get discouraged pretty quickly. And then you stumble into a verse like today’s?

Wheat almost ready - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Wheat almost ready – Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Luke 6:38.

“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

How does that work? I can honestly tell you that I’ve worked my fingers to the bone writing since I was a child. My dream since childhood was to be a published author. And I haven’t cut corners. At all. I’ve never expected a free ride, and I’ve dedicated every free moment to it. Even my vacations have been an opportunity to pursue writing.

So according to this rule, the rule of sowing and reaping, I should get back what I invest. And I should get back more of it. This is a law of nature that God created when He made the world. Newton figured it out too; for every action there is a reaction. Cause and effect.

So where does Jesus get off telling me this today?

Farmers plant fields and harvest crops, unless you live in Kansas. Then, generally, you plant crops and harvest dust. Much like writers write books and harvest disappointment when no one wants to buy their work. Am I wrong?

I’m only being partially facetious.

I would be right, yes, if Jesus were only talking about financial returns. I can’t really speak to farmers because I don’t farm (unless you count weeds), but when it comes to writing there is something more satisfying than being paid for your work. And that is when your work touches someone else.

No, I haven’t published a novel yet. But you’re reading this blog post, aren’t you?

No, I haven’t received a financial return on anything I’ve written, but I didn’t really start writing to get rich and famous. I started writing and telling stories because it was an outlet where I could share what God has done in my life. And so much more important to me is communicating that truth to other people, whether it’s in blog posts or articles or short stories or novels. And maybe I haven’t written anything that’s made money. And maybe I never will. But if you count up the people I’ve been able to share my story with through words, that vastly outweighs a paycheck of any kind.

I’ve invested 20 years of my life in writing, in learning how to tell stories, in sharing what God has taught me through words. And I can tell you, the returns I’ve seen, while not financial, are greater than what I originally invested. I’ve given my life to writing, and I’ve watched God take that and make it into something bigger than what I could have imagined, not only being a blessing to people but encouraging others to start sharing their story too. And that’s worth more to me than almost anything.

So whatever you’re doing in your life today, remember that the whole principle of sowing and reaping applies. It really does. It just may not pay off in the way you’re expecting. If what you’re doing in your life honors God, you will see a return. That’s a promise. So don’t give up.

Who needs a paycheck anyway, right? … Like I said. Partially facetious. =)

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Ask and you shall receive . . . but when?

Do you ever get upset because God doesn’t give you what you ask for? I do. There have been many times when I’ve asked Him for something specifically that He didn’t provide for me, whether it was financial or emotional or family-related or whatever. It just seemed entirely unfair because there are so many verses in the Bible that say that all we have to do is ask Him and He’ll give it to us.

So I have struggled with that sometimes because when I want something, I want it right away. But that’s usually not how God works. And, in all honesty, I’m glad. Getting older has given me some perspective, I think. And knowing what I know now, if God had given me the things I wanted when I was younger, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I wouldn’t have learned anything about life.

A good example is my manuscript writing. I wanted to get my first real manuscript published so badly. I don’t even think I can explain how badly I wanted it to see print. The first conference I took it to–the first editor I took it to–was about five years ago, and I had a really good chance. I gave it to an editor. He loved it. He started pitching it to his company to publish. I was on top of the world.

But it fell through. It’s a long, complicated story, so let’s just say it didn’t happen.

And I was upset. Majorly.

Looking back on that now, if that manuscript had hit print five years ago? Wow. That would have been awful. Becuase that manuscript was terrible five years ago. I’ve had five years to refine it, chisel away the bad spots, and accentuate the true message behind the story. So now it’s actually ready to go to print, unlike five years ago when it was a shell of itself.

Another example is my job. I wanted to write. I’ve always wanted to write for a living, but when I graduated from college, there wasn’t a writing job in Wichita. Anywhere. I was extremely disappointed. I kept looking for months, working as a temporary secretary, working as a sign language interpreter, doing anything I could find until I finally landed at the WSU Libraries. I was way over qualified for what I was doing, but I loved the people and the work was fun (I got to work with books all day; it was extraordinary). But it wasn’t what I had wanted to do. I wanted to write.

But what I learned at WSU Libraries opened the door for me to get the job I have now — a writing job. And looking back now I know without any doubt that I couldn’t have made it at Viega without knowing what I learned at WSU.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that when I asked God for something, He really did give it to me. It just wasn’t in the time that I wanted it.

Today’s verse is 1 John 5:14-15

14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. 15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.

 God hears us when we ask Him for things. And He doesn’t refuse to give us what we ask for out of spite or malice. But think about a parent with a child. Does a parent give a child something bad that will hurt the child? No. The child needs to ask for the things that will benefit him before the parent can even consider giving it to him.

I think that’s the first mistake we make. We ask God for things that don’t really help us, and they we get angry when He won’t give them to us.

But if we ask Him for things that are good, things that are eternal, things we can use to build our relationship with Him and with others, God will give them to us. But He may not give them to us exactly when we want them.

He may give us what we ask for right that instant when we would have preferred He wait ten years, when we’re not prepared for it, when we don’t know what to do with it. Or He may wait ten years when we would have preferred to have it right away. You never know what God is going to do, and that is the point of His being God.

But you can know that if you’ve asked God for something that pleases Him, you will receive it. And if you haven’t received it yet, it just means it isn’t time.

I have no doubt that my manuscript will be published someday. I didn’t write it for me. I wrote it for Him. So right now I’m just waiting for God to open the right door so that it will be possible. When He does, I’ll know it’s the perfect time for it.

So be careful what you ask for. What you ask for, you’ll receive. It just won’t be when you expect it.