I’ve had pretty good luck in the past few years with sermons I have heard linking up with what’s going on in my own life. This past Saturday was one of those occasions.
Our pastor, Mic Thurber, (we’ll miss you, Mic!) spoke on worry. He said there was was always something to worry about, but the reality is, worry never helps anything. So just stop it, he recommends.
Christians have a tendency to worry about a lot of things. That, along with feeling guilty, often drives people away from the church. But the reality is, a little bit of worry–or guilt–shows that you care enough to do something about it. Which is, really, the bottom line.
Now me, I tend to worry about things I have no control over. Projects I have at my day job drop into the worry category when I have to wait for someone else to do their part. Hurry up and wait, it’s called. And I should have learned after 36 years in my career that it will inevitable happen. What saves me is when I can get philosophical about it, pull myself aside and inform myself that I had done my part–at least for now–so just let go of it. Stop worrying.
Writing, it would seem, would be a situation where you don’t have to be concerned about other people doing their jobs. But I have learned that writers stress a LOT about what editors do or don’t do to their masterpieces. Two bits of advice here: (1) recognize that editors, for the most part, will only make your work look better; and (2) when waiting on editors, it always takes three times as long as you think it should. So the best thing to do is move on to another project. A watched pot never boils, or so I am told.
But that’s not my point of worry. I have had a friend, Edward Cheever, editing my Christian suspense trilogy, The Champion. He recently got a job out of state, so his editing is pretty much over. But we met last week and he told me that after six years of working on the project, my work is not yet done. My goal was to write a Christian series that moved out of the predictable, “safe” reading that one usually finds in the Christian genre into a more visceral, exciting, honest style, very much like one will find with traditional graphic novels. And Edward says I am not there yet. The storyline is there, the characters are there, but I haven’t pushed the envelope far enough yet.
After six years, I was hoping that I was done with the project, and so his words, as much as I suspected they would come, discouraged me. Add to that the present writing project I am working on–Infinity’s Reach–which isn’t jelling as well as I would like, and you can see why I was worried and depressed.
But then when I sat in Pastor Thurber’s sermon on Saturday, I remembered a question that a character is challenged with in the second book of the Champion series. Douglas Washington is a college student who gives up everything in his life–possessions, college scholarship–because he wants to do something great for God. His mentor asks him, “What if what God wants you to do is wash dishes for the rest of your life? What if you were hit by a bus tomorrow? What if you served God with all of your heart and soul for the rest of your life and nobody ever knew it?”
That’s the challenge that many Christians are confronted with. Do we serve God because we feel we will be rewarded, or even, dare I say it, acknowledged? Or do we serve God for the right reason, simply because we love Him? Where does the glory go, and where should it go?
As a writer, I know I am driven by the desire for others to read my stuff. But what if they don’t? Will I continue to write even though my books and articles and stories are never published? Can I glorify God if no one ever sees my words?
That’s where my worry kicks in–and where it shouldn’t. As Pastor Thurber said in his sermon, too often we try to do God’s job instead of letting Him worry about it. We are like the five-year-old boy who tells his father to “get out of the way” when they are trying to move a desk across a room.
All God asks of us as writers is that we do our best. He doesn’t promise the New York Times Bestseller list, and in some ways, that’s probably for the best anyway. He knows (and I am suspecting) that there is a direct relationship between success and our tendency to want to remain independent of Him. And brother, do I need Him.
So I am learning how to not worry. I will do my best in my writing. My writing projects may take six years–or sixty–but I will put out there what best represents my belief and love for God.
God only asks that we do our best. And leave the rest to Him.