Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Waiting and The Moment

Picture this.

There's an old man sitting on a park bench with $10, 000 cash in a bag and a signed, first edition copy of your favorite book in his hand. And maybe some donuts. He owns a publishing house, and he's ready to make you a great offer on your work in progress.

The catch? He'll only be sitting here five minutes. And once he's gone, that's it. He's gone for good.

What lengths would you go to to get to that man on time? Too early or too late, and you will have missed the opportunity. It seems obvious, doesn't it? We would do anything it took to get there at the right time.

And yet it hit me the other day that metaphorically speaking, this is exactly the situation we are in every day as writers. We have a story inside our hearts. We have faith in God's call upon our lives. The man is sitting on the bench, so to speak. So why do we struggle so much to believe it's all going to work out?

We operate with such a limited perspective. Remember the kaleidoscopes you played with as a kid? When we look at just this one moment in our lives, it's like we're viewing the world through a kaleidoscope. We color the limited landscape in all different ways with just a turn of our hands. The thing is, God's got so much more planned. He has a purpose for your whole life. He sees it all.





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Have you ever looked at a book you've written and felt anxiety about it? Maybe you feel that way now. I think most writers operate with a certain level of worry existent all the time. Is my book going to be good enough? Will I ever find the right agent? How long before a publishing house buys it? And then, what about the reviews that roll in?

But these worries come because we allow ourselves to get out of sync with God's timing. We believe in His promises, but we try to get ahead or behind the pace He's set. Doing so causes all sorts of trouble for whatever season we're facing in our writing lives.

Imagine yourself running with a crowd of people. Yes, I know that for some of you, the image of yourself running is difficult to picture, as, if you're anything like me, it hasn't happened since high school. But bear with me here. The race starts, and you all start running together. Before long, you fall into a rhythm. Some people rush ahead of you, and others fall behind. Some are running right alongside you and help you find your own groove. (We call these critique partners, and they rock.)

Before long, you become very observant of everyone else. Those in front of you are getting all these opportunities, and those behind are learning from your mistakes.

How much easier is it to look at everyone around us rather than to see the opportunities right in front of ourselves?

The thing is, God has equipped you with a particular pace, and operating outside of that is going to throw you off. If you rush ahead, you're going to get tired, and if you lag behind, you're going to miss the opportunities He's set in your path.

I want to encourage you today that God knows right where you are in this season of your life and your writing journey, and He has you there for a reason. Resist the urge to look ahead or behind. Instead, look around. You don't want to miss the opportunities He has placed before you because, like the man on the park bench, once those are gone, they're gone for good.

We can avoid so many of the things we worry about if we just press on. If we stop telling God we need to be faster, or things need to slow down. Forcing something that's the wrong timing will never make the timing right.

And when the timing's right, we will have peace in that. Imagine what would've happened had you never gone to the place you met your spouse, had you never met your best friend, had you never decided to write. A few moments, a few choices different, and your life wouldn't have been the same.

So whether you're waiting to hear from an agent, a publishing house, or even to hear God's next step for your life, be of good heart. God has not forgotten you or let go of His plans for your life. He is holding them, carefully tending to them, as He has been doing all along. Every day, every moment, is just another step toward the next chapter of His plan.

Your moment will come.

Psalm 27:14 "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." 


Can you think of a time in your life where you waited and you're glad you did?


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Ashley Clark writes romantic comedy with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blogFacebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.

27 comments:

Kate said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post!! This is exactly what I'm struggling with and was praying over just minutes ago. I really needed this encouragement. God's perfect timing.

Susan Anderson said...

Wow! This is write on time! Thank you for this encouragement. I am working at the International Christian Retail Tradeshow as a vendor next week. We publish Bible editions for secular games like Apples to Apples, Taboo, Scattergories, Outburst, and soon Cranium. We are Cactus Game Design. A few years ago at the show when it was in Denver, I decided to pick up a pen and a spiral notebook. Now I am blogging and hammering out memoir, (painstaking genre). Could you say a prayer for me? God Bless You!

Nancy Kimball said...

Ashley, I really enjoyed this. Thank you.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

I'm in the "waiting on a publisher" stage...so easy to forget that God provided for the "waiting to finish the book stage"...and the "waiting for the right agent" stage. Thanks for this reminder, that God sees the big picture. Oh, if only I could too!

April W Gardner said...

"Resist the urge to look ahead or behind. Instead, look around."
Exactly what I needed today. Thank you! Tweeting this post...

Angie said...

How did I get so blessed with such a wise critique partner? Ash, this is an amazing post!

Lindsay Harrel said...

Girl, you've got a gift. I mean it. You words just flowed from the screen and straight to my heart.

I do worry. It's the largest thing I struggle with. But when I examine why I'm worried, I can't figure it out. Because I know, deep down, that God's got this. He has me on this path and has already brought so many amazing opportunities into my life. I've already grown exponentially as a writer--and I've only been at the novel-writing thing for less than a year.

So really, it all comes down to me worrying because something hasn't happened YET. But there will always be something that hasn't happened YET. Once I get an agent, I'll start worrying about getting an editor interested. Then whether readers will like it. Then about my next book, and the next. There will always be something to worry about.

Unless we choose not to worry. To place it in God's hands, and do what we can for TODAY.

Thanks for the encouraging words. :)

Ashley Clark said...

Katie, that is such an encouragement to me. I really felt God leading me to write this one, so maybe it was for you! Thanks for coming by today. :)

Ashley Clark said...

Susan, I would be happy to pray for you! In fact, let's do it now.

Lord, you know the dreams You have placed on Susan's heart, and the obstacles she has faced to achieve them. Please give her passion for her work, ability to carry it out successfully, opportunities abounding, and place the right people in her path to encourage her and build her up in her craft. Thank you for this calling in her life, and I pray she would feel You singing over her today as you refresh her spirit and remind her of her purpose in You. In Jesus' name.

Ashley Clark said...

Thanks so much Nancy!

Heather, I know what you mean! I also have a great agent, and sometimes it's so easy to forget how nervous I was before I found her!

Thanks so much, April, and thanks for the tweet! I always like those!

Ashley Clark said...

Angie, you seriously are the best. As in, I don't think you have any idea how precious you are.

Lindsay, you almost made me cry with that! I have so enjoyed getting to know you the past few weeks. And you're right--you HAVE grown exponentially to have only just started this fiction journey. I'm happy to be watching as your success unfolds. :)

Susan Anne Mason said...

What a beautiful post, Ashley.

Something we all need to keep in mind, especially when doubt and fear plagues us.

Thanks so much!

Sue

Rachelle said...

I love how I started reading so unsuspecting of the huge way this would seriously minister to my heart this morning.

Most encouraging blog post I've read in a while...and probably my favorite post by you, ever, Ashley.

A heartfelt thank you,
Rachelle

Linda Jackson said...

Ashley, thank you so much for this post. It is just what I needed today. I especially like, "If you rush ahead, you're going to get tired, and if you lag behind, you're going to miss the opportunities He's set in your path." So often we are warned not to rush ahead, but it is just as important to remember not to lag behind.

Again, thank you.

Ashley Clark said...

Thanks so much, Sue!

Pepper said...

Beautiful, Ash.
This post was like a ray of sunshine in the middle of a storm.

The hardest part is...waiting :-)

Joanne Sher said...

This is a wonderful, encouraging post for everyone - NOT just writers. Thank you - pressing on.

Julia M. Reffner said...

Love, love this. And needed it. Apparently so many did. A breath of Spirit.

And I agree with Joanne, wonderful post for all whether writers or not.

tstarmom said...

Love this post! Beautifully written. I have a Journalism degree and last summer, I finished up a fictional novel and sent it out to 20 agents, only to get 20 rejections. A month later, my son was diagnosed with a speech disorder called apraxia on his third birthday.

I decided to put my book on hold and focus on getting my boy to talk. It was hard to self-sacrifice something that meant so much to me, but I couldn't imagine following any other path.

Shortly after his diagnosis, I became involved in a bible study group and we read "Calm My Anxious Heart." This book changed the way I viewed my writing career & reminded me that He is the blessed controller of all things & has a plan for my life.

It also reminded me that I have been put in this position for a reason & I suddenly felt an overwhelming responsibility to share my story with others. In December of last year, I started a blog & I document our highs and lows, along with tips that have helped his speech improve (www.jakes-journey-apraxia.com).

My book is still sitting in a cardboard box in my nightstand, but I know that I am exactly where I need to be. We all need reminding of that every once in a while, however, so thank you for your well-written post.

Susan Anderson said...

Hi Again,

Ashley, that was so nice of you to pray for me. I'm going to post this on my blog! Please follow me if you'd like one more thing to keep up with, ha, ha.
www.sacredoysters.blogspot.com

God Bless & Thanks,
Susan

Ashley Clark said...

Rachelle, you are so kind to say that! I'm glad you find the post encouraging and wish you the best on your writing journey today!

Ashley Clark said...

Linda, thank you! I agree--it can be easy to slip behind the pace God has set for us by allowing ourselves to get distracted by doubts and just the busy-ness of life. All too easy to do! Thanks for stopping by today.

Aww, Pepper-- good things are coming your way, girl! Just keep holding on to that! You're a gem!

Joanne, thank you so much! You're right--God's pace applies to all areas of our lives, not just writing. Good point!

Ashley Clark said...

Thanks, Julia! You are sweet.

Tstarmom, what an inspiring story you have to share, and it sounds like you're really making an impact in the lives of others. Thanks for being a real-life example of what I was writing about! And don't give up on that novel. You never know when God might have an open door just around the corner.

Susan, you're so welcome! I'll check out your blog! :)

Karen Schravemade said...

Beautiful post, Ashley.

Ashley Clark said...

Thanks, Karen! :)

Erynn said...

This was EXACTLY the message I needed right now. A few weeks ago I was at a conference, and I saw God doing amazing things left and right, and then I came home and everything just . . . stalled.
Then they picked back up again . . . for everyone BUT me.
I've been waiting for so many things for so long that I could be considered a professional waiter. But oddly, it doesn't get any easier.
This post was such a great perspective shifter. It's going in the "to keep" file for all the days I start to wonder what God is up to.
Thank you!

Ashley Clark said...

Thank you for sharing that, Erynn! I know how that feels. It's amazing when we look back and see how God had a bigger picture for us all along. I can even remember feeling this way when people would come back from youth camp. One particular year, I didn't go, and I felt like I was the only one who hadn't gotten a fresh experience with God that week, but years later, I realized He was doing something deeper in my heart b developing my persistence.

I am glad you felt encouraged and hope you continue to feel affirmed in your calling!