I had a plan for my coaching class at a recent writers’ conference. The safe route would be best. I determined to share the first chapter of my current work in progress, a nonfiction Christian living book about living without regret. But when I opened the piece on my phone, I saw a glaring error I had missed before. I’d given away the ending in the first paragraph.
A quick prayer resulted in the idea to share the first chapter of my edited memoir manuscript instead. I immediately balked at the idea, which is a sure sign it’s from God. I tend to argue with Him over His best instructions for me.
Thinking I probably didn’t have access to it on my phone anyway, I did a quick email search. There it was, attached to an email I’d recently sent, which meant is was the most current edited version. I opened the document and read the first to paragraphs to myself.
“I can’t read this in front of these 21 people, most of whom I barely know,” I argued.
“Yes, you can,” God impressed upon me.
My heart raced as I prepared to pour my soul out with this offering. And then someone else was selected to read first. I struggled to concentrate on their piece as I conversed with God, seeking peace for what I was about to share.
Peace did not come, but resolve did. I read through tears and an occasional crack in my voice. I bared my soul in a way much more intimate than having someone miles away read the words of my life. I made it to the final line of the chapter: “But what could He do with these shards of clay?”
What, indeed, could God do with this offering, these shards of my life penned and edited with care and humility?
Well, first, He provided immediate blessing for my obedience. The reaction from others in the class was overwhelmingly encouraging. The coach said, “Well, I don’t think anybody wants to critique that.” I was told my writing was poetic and beautiful, that I had evoked a deep emotional reaction in those who listened.
Second, He inspired one member of the class to approach me later that day to discuss my reading. This man is the editor of The Christian Journal newspaper, and he ask me to write articles for future issues. I’ve already submitted an article and it will be published in two days in the September issue. I have ideas for October, November, and December articles already floating around in my head.
Third, He motivated me to tell an agent, who had already expressed interest in my nonfiction Christian living book, about my memoir when I sat next to him at dinner that night. I’ll be sending proposals for both books to that agent as soon as I can get them completed using the template he sent me. And make sure they are polished and have NO TYPOS!
Finally, He reminded me that patience is a virtue. It may seem like it’s taking forever to get my memoir published, but it’s all going according to His timing. I think I started working on it four or five years ago, but I’ve made great progress during that time. The work I’ve put into learning the craft of memoir writing and considering feedback from knowledgeable people in the industry has resulted in a much better book.
I’ve had a plan all along, but God’s plan will prevail. “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NIV).