Anyone who has been in church most of his or her life knows the story of Abraham and God’s promise to make him a father of many nations. For anyone who isn’t familiar with the story, start at Genesis 12 for the story of Abraham and God’s call on his life.
Just like Abraham, I believe everyone has a call from God. No, it might not be to go to an unknown land and start a new nation. Most likely, it won’t be. But it will be something that can help share the gospel, something that God has created you specifically to accomplish.
Looking back, I can see that I had a call to write long before I knew it. Even as a child, I loved to write about anything about everything, and words came easily to me. I was the only one in Mrs. Renfroe’s eighth grade English class who looked forward to deconstructing a sentence each morning. And, nerdy as it may be, that hasn’t changed.
God had this plan for my life all along. It just took me a while to get onboard. I eventually graduated with a journalism degree, but only after a series of events convinced me to switch my major from becoming a news anchor to becoming someone who would write the news—and much more.
That was my first experience in setting my plans aside for the greater plans God had for me, and the doors began to open. I enjoyed coveted internships and numerous publications through my university news mediums. So much so, that I got a little cocky and forgot the source of my talents.
That was my first Ismael.
I graduated at an all-time low for journalism and found myself working two and three part-time jobs to pay rent while taking any freelance opportunity that came my way and applying for jobs left and right. That was a hard year, but it taught me humility, and I wouldn’t take anything for it.
I naively assumed my portfolio, grades and status in the Communications College at The University of Alabama would easily land me any job I wanted. Like Abraham’s wife, Sarai (later Sarah), trusted in her handmaiden rather than God, I trusted in my degree and knowledge rather than God.
After a lesson in humility and patience, I went on to work for a Christian publisher. This job not only helped me as a journalist but also in my faith walk. I feel like God truly used it to show me how He knows best for our lives.
I later worked for my old university as a book editor and now have the privilege of working for myself as an independent contractor. And, up until a little more than a year ago I was perfectly content writing articles and doing graphic design. I could work as much or little as I needed and set my own hours, all while making a comfortable living.
Then, while sitting in a restaurant one afternoon I felt a story come up inside of me. This stirred an urge I haven’t felt in more than a decade. An urge to write a novel.
I started writing my thoughts on my phone’s notes app as I waited for my salad. When I got home, I jotted down some more. The characters begin to come together, and stories I had both lived out and made up over the years joined it to form a full-length novel.
After editing it a gazillion times over and having trusted people read, proof and offer their opinions on it, I am now in the hardest stage of writing.
The waiting period.
This is where I research book agencies and publishers to find who might want an Inspirational Comedic Romance based in the Deep South with sarcastic dialogue. Then, I have to write a letter about why they will like my book and should represent or publish it. That leads to sending out a sample of the book and waiting for a reply.
So far, I’ve received several “no” responses, all of which mention that it’s purely nit-picky personal preferences as to why they passed. I also have several more letters lost in cyberspace, waiting to be decided upon. Meanwhile, I learn about certain self-published writers making good money off of their books. This tempts me to do the same.
But God said “wait.”
I don’t know why, but I know He knows. And that’s a good enough reason for me to do it. There’s nothing wrong with trying, again and again, to go the traditional publishing route or going straight to self-publication or doing a little of both. But for some reason, I feel God telling me to wait.
Within about an hour of my doubts, I saw a social media post by a well-respected Southern author. Lisa Patton Instagrammed all of the rejection letters she received for Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’Easter, which many people praised after it’s publication. That was the encouragement I needed at the right time to keep pressing on.
I don’t know who will accept my book nor when it will get accepted. All I can do is keep writing my next book and trust God to do the rest. I encourage you to do the same with whatever it is He has called you to do.
Don’t birth an Ishmael when you can spend your time preparing for an Isaac.