For the next several Monday’s I’ll be reflecting on thoughts stirred by reading Mary DeMuth’s upcoming book, Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become Like Jesus. The following is a reflection the ideas in chapters 13 & 14
Last year, two weeks before the sold out conference, God provided me with a ticket to the Relevant (now Allume). Upon reflection, I see the ticket was less an opportunity, and more of a personal invitation from God’s heart, to mine.
During the conference, God continued to ‘wow’, or perhaps woo me with His generosity, answering many private prayers along the way.
I met Mary DeMuth on my flight out of Newark.
What a gift!
My travel went smoothly despite the insanely early snow storms that set in that weekend in the north east.
Some other friends I knew that were attending the conference generously offered for me to share their room at the hotel–
Such a blessing.
I had the pleasure of spending a little one on one time with Ann, when we discovered we would be sharing a flight, and she needed a ride to the airport.
During the conference I won a sit down with an Editor of a well known publishing house–a dream come true!
I pitched the book off the cuff, she asked me to submit three chapters to her. Her invitation literally fell into my lap. Throughout the weekend God continued to surprise me with his flagrant grace–it felt as if He just wanted me to know that He hears all my longings and cares deeply for me. I have never felt so loved by Him.
I returned from the conference refreshed, renewed, and slightly overwhelmed by the generosity that God had displayed for me.
I set to work writing those three chapters, while God continued to place people in my path who would encourage me and hold my hand all along the way.
Stepping out in obedience
The next several months would be a journey of self discovery that I hadn’t anticipated.
I vacillated between feeling confident of eventual publication, and certain of failure. On good days, the writing came easy–and on hard days I wrote anyway, determined to finish and submit the three chapters quickly. I subjected my work to the raw refining of the professional editing process, a new and terrifying experience–not to mention humbling, deeply, painfully humbling.
The first return of my newly marked up manuscript made me weep. So much work lay ahead of me. I handled the second and third edits with a little more grace and maturity, but still, I knew I had miles still to go.
As I struggled to get the words right I questioned what God was doing with this whole thing, I wondered, had He really had asked me to write this?
I finished and submitted the three chapters during Lent. God’s timing of the work He was doing in me during that season of reflection and redemption seemed appropriate. He humbled me to the floor repeatedly as I struggled to write this book, and to wait for the response.
God used the eight week wait for the editors response to further stretch me, he called me closer to himself, and the more He poured His grace all over me, the harder I wrestled with Him.
In a fit one restless afternoon, I retreated to my bedroom venting my frustrations at God for leading me down such a difficult path. I pressed Him for the whys of this struggle–things were taking so long, and He had revealed so much trash in my own soul. This opportunity which began as a dream come true, had shifted from joyful to torturous, as God used the process to refine me.
That tearful afternoon, His words came–this book would not be accepted right now. God used this journey to bring me closer to Himself–a catalyst for the deep refining work He was doing in me.
I don’t claim to always know when god is speaking to me, I am noisy and often miss His still small voice. When this thought surfaced, I knew without a doubt, this was from the Lord.
A few weeks later the official rejection letter landed in my inbox, just as God said it would.
God had led me on a journey that ended in personal failure for His purposes.
The hard truth
Writing and publishing a book is a childhood dream of mine. God led me on a journey of relinquishing my dreams, my goals, my own ambitious desires, so that He could become my everything.
Even now, as I re-read the rejection letter, I hear Him say well done. Well done. The truth is, sometimes what we perceive to be the point, isn’t it at all. I thought God wanted me to write this book, but really, God wanted to bring me closer to Him through the journey.
Success isn’t measured in accumulating achievements, but rather in living by obedience. <–Tweet this.
When following God ends in what we perceive as personal failure, we have to cling to the truth found in Jeremiah 29:11-12:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
He knows the plans He has for us.
His perspective is so much wider than ours.
We continue to hope in Him because He is faithful. He uses our apparent failures to grow and strengthen our faith. Until we learn to lay down everything for Him, He can’t become our everything.
Has God led you down a path that ended in failure? How did you handle it?
Everything releases in October, however, you can pre-order now. Woot!
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