"Some of you have been coming here for weeks, months, years, decades, and it doesn't seem as though what is on your heart, what you've been believing for, what you know to be God's will, is taking place... is working out."
So began my pastor's teaching yesterday in our outdoor amphitheater. Those words went straight to my heart. They were the words I most needed to hear at that point in time.
From what I can ascertain from talking to and reading scores of interviews with published writers, my writing journey has been a longish one--going on 20 years, with some health challenges that, for a time, made writing more of a frustration than a joy. That journey took another unwanted turn into what seemed a dead end just 24 hours before I heard those words spoken by my pastor. While the message is still fresh, I'm going to do my best to paraphrase the heart of it.
He used as an example Simeon, in Luke 2, who at some point in the past received the promise that he would live to see Messiah's coming. At the time of Luke 2, Simeon was a very old man, 113, yet he waited and prayed in the temple daily, still looking for Messiah.
Often in scripture, when God has given a promise, there's a serious lag time between the giving and the fulfillment of that promise. Abraham waited 25 years, deep into his and Sarah's old age, before his promised son, Isaac, was born. Noah began building the ark 100 years before the flood. Joseph endured slavery and prison in the 13 years he waited for God's promise of exalting him to come to pass.
When God fulfills a promise, not only does it often take longer than we expect, but it often looks different than how we expect it to look.
It's easy to believe that over the years Simeon imagined various scenarios, anticipating Messiah's arrival and what that might look like. Perhaps he expected a warrior, or a political leader, who would deliver Israel from Roman oppression. Then one day a man and woman, poor, very young, came into the temple with their newborn son, Yeshua. Was this what Simeon was expecting Messiah to look like? Maybe so, maybe no. It certainly wasn't what many of his fellow Israelites were expecting. But there, at last, was the promise, and Simeon had the eyes to see it, embrace him, and rejoice.
"But God has ways, for those who have eyes to see, of coming into our situations, confirming that he is at work, that the promises are being fulfilled."
God's ways our not our ways, and he always gives his best to those who leave the choice to him (in my case: the choice of when I find an agent, which book is the one, which agent).
So how come God makes us wait so long? Why does he work the way he does?
As we wait, pray, worship and trust him to fulfill those desires, we're being changed. Even though my situation hasn't yet changed into what I envision it will be, I'm being changed into a different kind of person. A person of faith, a person of hope, a person of devotion, a person who knows how to wait on God's timing--the person I'll need to be to live out that promise, once it's fulfilled. Maybe I'm not that person yet.
All these things I knew, but for a few hours on Saturday I lost sight of them. I'm thankful for the timely reminder, and the comfort, of yesterday's word. God knows my heart, my dreams, my hopes concerning writing, and while I may not always like how long this journey has taken, the long wait before I can connect with readers, and while I may sometimes get tired, discouraged, and cranky even, I can rest in my soul as I take the next step. God's in control. My times are in his hands.
And if that wasn't encouraging enough, in my personal reading this weekend: "Then he (Jesus) spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart." Luke 18:1 (italics mine)
So this writing journey will take as long as it takes, and it will have as many turns and twists as it has. And I will take the next steps:
1. Continue editing the word count down as far as I possibly can.
2. Prepare to query more agents.
3. Brainstorm ideas for a new story set in the same 18C world as Kindred, featuring characters who will one day intersect with Ian and Seona's story, should I write the sequel to Kindred.
4. Read, read, read!