Notes to Aspiring Writers: Your Dream, God's Plan (when God says no)

Thanks for joining me as I share some notes to aspiring writers. If you're new here, reading the first post in the series will help this one make sense. Notes to Aspiring Writers (new)

I've wanted to write a book my entire life.

But not just any old book. I had a theme, outline, chapter names and a brilliant title (I think). For a time, I just knew it was how God wanted to use all that He's taught me over the course of the last ten years of ministering to women. Watching them struggle in the same basic areas over and over again left me with a thesis I knew I could prove, not just from life experience, but also from the Word in a fresh, life-giving way.

I set about writing this book intent on having a proposal for it packaged and ready to go for the She Speaks Writer’s Conference in July 2010. The passion I felt for this book was driving and I believed that it just might be my life's mission. I looked at this book and saw the quilt of my life: all the different pieces finally fitting together in a display of God's mercy, love, and forgiveness. A message I believed with all of my heart (and still believe) women need desperately to hear.

But God said no.

One morning, after attempting to write a small sample piece of one chapter, I published it on my blog. But I knew what I was trying to communicate wasn't coming across in the grace-filled way I was hoping for. By mid-morning I had taken the article down and found myself deep in prayer over what the Lord was showing me.

I wasn't ready.

Or more specifically, my heart wasn't ready. I hadn't learned all I needed to about Christ to be able to write the book in a way that would honor Him, and I knew it.

Has that ever happened to you? Tons of head knowledge but a lack of heart understanding to go with it? I lacked the ability to write about my topic with grace. Ephesians 4:15 says to, " . . . speak the truth in love . . ." and I couldn't do it. I was judgmental in tone, holier than thou in approach, and didn't allow for any shades of grey in my theology.

It was a recipe for disaster.

Looking back now, I'm actually quite grateful the Lord removed that book from my life. I still haven't written it, and I probably never will. In fact, I think someone already has—and you know what—it doesn't bother me a bit. But it took me a while to get there, and in the meantime, I was left with a ticket to a writing conference and no book.

Look Around You

One of my all-time favorite Bible studies is the classic Experiencing God, by Henry Blackaby. I studied it as a teenager, and the one thing I've managed to remember all these years is that when you don't know what to do, look around and see what God is already doing, and join Him in it. At that time, I had just co-founded a brand new online community for mothers of boys, The MOB Society, and had a measure of success writing about something close to my heart, praying for boys. I asked a friend of mine involved in the publishing industry if she knew of a book on prayer that focused on battling for the hearts of sons. She didn't. But what she told me next changed my life.

"Write it."

Two little words that would change the course of my life: write it.

So I did. And so was born my very first eBook, Warrior Prayers: Praying the Word for Boys in the Areas They Need it Most. It's the proposal I took with me to that She Speaks writing conference, and it's the same one that got wonderful feedback, but no offers.

I tried sending my unsolicited manuscript to several more agents and publishers after I got home, but got rejected over and over again. And after time, I gave up on the idea of getting it traditionally published. Oh, the dream was still there, but doubt began to creep in. With so many rejections in tow, I wasn't sure this was where the Lord wanted me to spend my valuable time. So I made Him a little deal.

The Deal

Now, I don't necessarily recommend making deals with God. Most of them don't turn out well, and I'm not all that sure it's theologically correct in the first place. But I did it. Here's how it went:

"Hey God...I don't know if anyone cares about this subject, but I care about it deeply. So I'm going to write about it in a book. If You don't want me spending my time with this anymore, let it fail. And when I say fail, I mean let it splat. Show me no one cares and I'll let it go. But if this is something You do want me to pursue, well, let a few hundred people buy it. Give me something to go on here, Lord. Show me the way and I'll walk in it."

Since the day I prayed that obviously full of faith prayer (ahem), I've sold thousands of copies of Warrior Prayersand I finally have a contract on that book. Praying for Boys: Asking God for the Things They Need Most (its new title) releases with Bethany House in January 2014, but it didn't come easily. In fact, it almost didn't come at all.

The heart of the story is in how God met me during the time in-between, and how what He taught me there was absolutely necessary for me before I could take hold of the dreams of my heart. 

It started with what I thought was my life's mission (hint...I was wrong).

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I suspect much of what I learned applies to you too, aspiring writers, so stay tuned for the next post in the Notes to Aspiring Writers: Your Dream, God's Plan series.

Questions: Has God ever told you no in your writing journey? Or maybe wait? How did you respond? What did it feel like?

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