At church yesterday, our pastor's sermon was titled--okay, this is too good so I'm gonna make you wait for it...
wait for it...
wait for it...
Storytellers Wanted: This job is not for the faint of heart!
He had me hooked by the title alone. When we get discouraged, it's often because our EFFORTS don't meet up with our EXPECTATIONS. When that happens, we'll either give up or want to give up.
Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton CVO OBE, (15 February 1874 – 5 January 1922) was an Anglo-Irish explorer who was one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. His first experience of the polar regions was as third officer on Captain Scott’s Discovery Expedition, 1901–04, from which he was sent home early on health grounds. Determined to make amends for this perceived personal failure, he returned to Antarctica in 1907 as leader of the Nimrod Expedition. In January 1909 he and three companions made a southern march which established a record Farthest South latitude at 88°23'S, 97 geographical miles (114 statute miles, 190 km) from the South Pole, by far the closest convergence in exploration history up to that time. For this achievement, Shackleton was knighted by King Edward VII on his return home. (Wikipedia)
In 1913, he planned another expedition, and he ran this ad in the London Times:
"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success."
Legend has it 5000 men applied for what Shackleton defined as a great adventure. The book of Acts is a Believer's call to adventure, call to be worldwide storytellers of Jesus. The book of Acts also tells readers about real people who went on an adventure. What can we learn from them?
1. Be spiritually self-disciplined!
In Acts 13:1-3, worship, fasting, and prayer preceeded the "going." Yet how many times do we get to "going," only to stop and pray, worship, or even fast when the going gets tough? Seek God first, then consider your needs.
Bertha Smith was a missionary to China for 40 years. Prior to going, she had a overwhelming yearing to get married and have children. Then one day she took her eyes off her own "need" and focused on God. She got to the point where she told God, "I want to enter into an agreement with You..."
What did she agree? That she would have a love in her heart for the people of China as if they were her own flesh and blood. They would be the children she longed so desperately for.
Now I could spend a day talking about agreements. Maybe another time.
As writers, we need to be spiritual self-disciplined. Are we spending more time regurgitating what somene has taught us about Jesus or learning directly about Jesus ourselves? When was the last time we had a fresh revelation from God? When was the last time God brought you to the point of a spiritual/emotional/mental change?
2. Be ready for war--spiritual attacks will come!
Scripture says you will know them by their fruit. We tend to view that into recognizing a Believer. If you're a Christian, then the fruits of the spirit will be evident in your life. But that biblical truth goes beyond the common assumption.
If you're oozing discouragment, anger, resentment, jealousy, dispair, etc, then, hear me now, those aren't from God. And it time to quit blaming the hormones. Those negative, critical thoughts in your head aren't yours and certainly aren't from the Holy Spirit. It's time to take a stand against them. Choose to quit living in the "Oh, woe is me" muck.
3. Be able to handle rejection!
The hard and fast truth is not everyone will be receptive to your story. That someone rejects the story you've told doesn't make you a failure. Paul and Barnabas faced this big time on their missionary journeys. When they were rejected, they "with joy" went on to someone else. How could they have joy in the midst of the rejection?
Because they were obedient to God. When we're obedient to what God has asked us to do, He is pleased. He desires our obedience not our sacrifices.
Because everytime they told their story, they RE-LIVED their experience.
Because they knew somewhere out there was someone else just waiting to hear their story.
As born-again Believers in Jesus Christ, we are called to tell our story how God changed us. How He gave us joy amid the despair. How He turned our sorrow into gladness. Too many times we fall into the stinkin' thinkin' that being a Christian is an easy life. It's not. God never planned it to or He would have zapped us up to Heaven the moment of salvation.
The path to publication or to being published again isn't an easy, constantly exciting life. We must adjust our expectations that...
...if I could just get so-and-so to be my critique partner, then I'll suddenly figure out all the weaknesses in my writing
...if I could get an agent, then my book will sell.
....if I could final/win this contest, then my book will sell (or get another contract for a book or garner a ton of new fans)
The if-thens could go on and on.
This first e-mail I checked this morning was from my agent. Let's just say what I read kinda ticked me off. (Not at my agent.) I sent a nice reply, but I wasn't feeling all gumdrops and roses.
Well, the next e-mail was from one of my CPs congratulating me on finaling in the Daphne. I responded with, "Oh. That. Thanks." But before I hit the send button, I realized I was letting that what I thought was stupid comment from an editor steal me of my joy of finaling.
I watched The Princess Diaries on saturday with my oldest daughter. In it, Joe the bodyguard told Mia, "No no has the power to make you feel inferior without your permission."
For writers on the path to publication or on the path to be published again, I think that quote is quite fitting. Just remove "inferior" and substituted any other emotion you are feeling.
What ever our goal, we need to re-adjust our expectations while continuing to give our best efforts.