Have you ever had one of those moments? When you got THE news you had been waiting for? THE opportunity you had worked long and hard toward? THE break of a lifetime?
I have recently, and it caught me totally by surprise. It’s the oddest thing. You believed in the promise, but now that you’re holding the confirmation, it doesn’t quite seem real. You look again, just for confirmation. Yep, it’s real.
What do you do? Well, you smile and your heart races and you have the sudden urge to tell your friends. If no one is around, you post it on Facebook. Lotsa friends there. People are happy for you. They congratulate you.
But after the moment of initial elation, things start to settle. You hold the thing just a little bit closer, feel its warmth, it’s life. It looks up at you as if to say, “I’m yours. Now what?”
This moment is especially vivid for me having just been mesmerized by the cover art on this month’s (the January-February 2014 edition) of the Upper Room Magazine. It literally stopped me in my tracks. A bearded man clutching a small, swaddled child to his breast. The two are awash in a map of the world. Beaming from the child’s blanket is a point of light.
The look on the man’s face, is it joy or is it pain? The artist himself calls it “ecstasy.” This is Simeon, the priest in the temple when Mary and Joseph brought their baby boy to “do what was customary under the law.”
What must that moment have looked like? What does it feel like to hold the Son of God in your arms? The second chapter of Luke tells us…
Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.” Now, he could be dismissed in peace.
Complete and utter joy. Simeon had waited his whole life for this moment. But, the look on his face, is it joy or pain? Because these moments are just that, moments. You can only stand and revel in your Facebook congratulations so long, then you have to do something.
Simeon told the child’s parents what he knew of what was ahead for this child. That was both good news and bad. And that’s the way with moving ahead into whatever comes. It’s not all good. But you can’t stay in the glory. You’ve got to get to work. This gift is not for holding or hoarding, it’s for using and sharing.
So, you take a step. Perhaps a tiny step. Or maybe in your enthusiasm you take a giant leap, waving your new book contract above your head screaming, “Lookie here! I’m gonna be published!”
Some people dance and sing for you, saying, “Now you made it! Congratulations, I knew you could do it!” They figure that all that’s left is the coasting. Sit back and let the royalties roll on in. Not so fast.
Other people, those more in the know, look you straight in the eye and say, “Now that the miracle has been delivered, what will you do with it?”
Holding a miracle flings open every door in the house. The wind howls in the hallway. The curtains start flapping. Everything that’s not nailed down takes flight. God’s that big. You are that fortunate. The weight of that moment is huge. Good thing, because otherwise you would be swept up in the whirlwind, too.
Instead, you hold it close, feel it nestle against you, it’s heart beating strong and true. It looks up at you in total trust. The eyes look back at you, big and brown and soft and somehow intense. You look down, trying to reassure it, reassure him, even as all around you the ideas and the opportunities spin. Dizzying, if it weren’t for your focus. Hold on!
What do you do when you’ve been given the one thing you’ve always wanted – a crowning achievement, glory itself?
Embrace it. Nurture it. Go for it.
“Use what you have in your hands. It’s mine. It’s me. It’s ours.”
Yesterday, I received notification that the proposal for my book had been rejected. Nope. Not gonna happen. Not now. Not by that publisher.
I had inquired earlier in the day, dredging up my courage to ask, even if the news was not good news. The response came:
I checked with the editor and he was finishing up the process of reviewing your manuscript. I have attached the letter that he was going to mail to you today. I wish you the very best of luck in finding a publisher for your book.
While I would have done cartwheels and somersaults, had my proposal been accepted, I read this news without surprise. The actual editor’s letter shed light on other books which are similar in an over-crowded market. In other words, I was writing what had already been well-covered; they can only invest time and money in projects that bring new ideas. That makes sense. It’s what I’ve done all my writing life, though. Write what I need to write, albeit not necessarily saying something new. The editor gave me credit for presenting it in a new way. But a publisher cannot invest in old. He’s looking for new.
Pouring old wine into new wine skins, just doesn’t bode well for sales.
Still, a rejection hurts. Hurt is funny. It’s something very difficult to describe but quite easy to remember, if you’ve been hurt before. And this “no” feels very familiar. It feels like when my obstetrician said, “It’s another girl.”
I already had two daughters. I guess I must have been secretly hoping for a boy, but that would not be politically correct or something anyone should admit, so I hadn’t admitted it to myself. I smiled and nodded. And then went to the mall.
I’m not much of a shopper really, but I walked and walked. Thought about my mother who done this right, a boy and a girl. Salt and pepper shakers, a complete set. I was surprised at the loss I felt. Of the son I would never have. This, you see, would be our last child. It was time. My husband and I had decided this. Would I always feel incomplete?
No one could know (though now, you reading this do know) that I had hoped for a boy. In fact, I didn’t even know it, until it wasn’t, and then I did. And as I walked, an amazing thing happened. I healed. really, in the scheme of the universe this was an exceedingly quick turn around! I said goodbye to what wouldn’t be and welcomed in the little girl who would be.
And, in December of the coming year, I got to meet her. She was gorgeous and precious and blond and beautiful.
I never thought again of the little boy who wasn’t. Until yesterday. When I was rejected. Until I accepted the news that what I had hoped for would not come to pass. But look, God seemed to say, we are doing something new!
Isn’t it amazing that God can prepare us for “bad news” so far in advance. Even allowing us to recall the moment and the hurt, how it felt and how we dealt with it. And then, let it founder all these years (16 to be exact) in order to resurface at the opportune time.
I know this feeling. It is not death. It is life. Life within me, meant to live and breathe and find its way in the world. As this book will. In its own time. In its own way.
God is so very, very gracious.
He even included His signature. The editor’s letter was penned for the very day I inquired. What are the chances? Then the man who really did write the book on this accepted my linked in inquiry immediately. Then, this morning a dear friend of many, many years ago tapped me to connect with him on linked in. His last name: Christ.
How obvious can God be? He has promised:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11
A future we can’t write but we can count on to be better than we ever imagined. Prosperous doesn’t mean we get what we want every time. That’s greedy. Prospering us just means that we come out of each hardship better equipped for the work that lay ahead.
Thank you, Lord, for your providence. I feel very, very blessed today. I have never felt quite so successful. In loss there is, indeed, great gain. In death, there is life. That’s really hard to believe, but today I understand it as completely as I ever have. Your grace is surely sufficient.