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Don’t Waste Your Time

Some days…those rare, out-of-the-blue, once-in-awhile days…God speaks an amen that reminds me all this is worth it.

This past Saturday was a day like that. I spoke at a writer’s conference and had a delightful time. At the closing sessions I spoke on passion and why we Christian writers do what we do. How the goal can’t be publication, but obedience to the task God has given us. How writing for God is about doing the task with excellence, not achieving some worldly measure of success. How nothing that we do out of obedience to God is ever wasted. How what God asks us to do is write, and what He does with our writing is His call. One gentleman sitting there soaking in every word, nodding, smiling, offering an occasional “amen!” and “It’s all about obedience. That’s right.”

After the sessions were over, I did a few one-on-one meetings. Amen Man came in and sat down, then proceeded to tell me how he’d been trying to get published. He’d written one kind of book and had no luck. So now was wondering what gems of wisdom I had for him to help him get his book published. Otherwise he didn’t want to waste his time.

I leaned forward, elbows on the table, and rested my chin in my hand. “Waste your time…?”

He nodded. “Writing. If it’s not going to be published.”

I frowned a bit and leaned back in my chair. “But…” Maybe this was actually Amen Man’s twin brother? Or some doppleganger who wasn’t there during the session we’d just been in? “Didn’t we just talk about how nothing we do out of obedience to God is wasted.”

He stared at me. Blinked. Then shook his head. “Well, yeah, sure. But why would I write if my book isn’t going to be published?”

I shrugged. “You’ll have to ask God. If He’s given you the task to write, only He can tell tell you why.”

Now he was frowning at me. “Then what’s the point?”

I angled a look at him. “Let me ask you something. Why are you writing?”

“To be published.”

“Not because God asked you to write.”

“Yeah. Sure. That. But so I can be published.”

Oh dear. This wasn’t going at all well. I leaned forward again. “But don’t you see? God has asked you…to write.” I said the rest as gentle as I could:  “That doesn’t mean you’ll be published.”

Silence again. “But then I’m not a success.”

“In whose eyes?”

This time his eyes widened a bit, but I didn’t stop. I couldn’t. Not because I had to be right, but because I so wanted him to understand.

“In whose eyes? God’s?”

He went still. I thought for a heartbeat he was going to push back, stand, and walk out. Instead, with a deep exhale, he relaxed for the first time since he sat down. He studied at the table for a moment, then lifted his eyes back to me. “In my eyes. I wouldn’t be a success in my eyes.”

I held my breath. Waited.

“Wow.” He stared at the table again. Shook his head. And let out another sigh. “Wow, that’s…wrong. Isn’t it?”

I relaxed now. “Wrongheaded, maybe.”

“You know, when you talked about obedience and writing because that’s what He asked us to do…I agreed. Or I thought I did. But I think maybe…”

“What?”

Me met my eyes. “I think I need to adjust my view on what success is.”

He said it quiet-like. Thoughtful. And I could tell he meant it. Really meant it.

He stood and held out his hand. “Thanks.”

I stood and took his hand, then gave him a hug. “Keep writing, okay?”

He gave me a grin that was like the sun bursting through a thundercloud. “Until He tells me to stop.”

Yup. Some days, some rare, out-of-the-blue days, God speaks an amen. And the sound of it…

Is glorious.

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