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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Slow ... But Never Late


Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Choice, The Waiting, The Search, and A Lancaster County Christmas, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is fascinated by faith-based communities. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, who was raised in the Old order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is the host of Amish Wisdom, a weekly radio program, and a columnist for Christian Post. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can find Suzanne on-line at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com. She loves to hear from readers! 

Slow but Never Late

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him, do not fret” (Psalm 37:7, niv).

I’m 52 years old. Sometimes, I feel like I’m late to this author gig and trying to catch up fast.

While my children were growing up, I free-lanced for magazines. My four kids have been a source of constant material—I would focus on whatever puzzling part of child raising I was facing at the time (oh so many!) and try to figure it out by talking to experts, reading books, then spin it all into an article. Always, always with takeaway value (the bulls-eye for magazine work.)

As my kids headed off to college and started their young adult lives, I took a deep breath, tried to silence all of that self-doubt that buzzed around me like a restless mosquito, and wrote a novel. Just a little one. Published it with just a little small press. No big deal. But that little book won some awards, which caught the eye of an agent, who opened the door to an editor at Revell.

As of this very morning, over the course of three years, I will have signed twenty-one contracts with Revell. Amazing! Just amazing. Only God could open those doors, just in time. God is often slow, but never late.

Of course, four years ago, I had no clue that any of this would unfold. I kept plugging along [in my "office,"] working on my craft, writing proposals, tweaking work-in-progress. If you had asked me, I would have said that I fully expected my writing future to be pretty bleak. Filled with long, long, long waits.

But if you asked me now, I would say that God’s timing was ideal. Not only was the timing spot-on for the right connections to occur with editor and agent, but the timing was right for me. I was getting ready to handle these obligations, but I wasn’t ready yet. Not four years ago, not ten years. Or twenty. I needed seasoning. A lot of it.

Does God ever seem slow to you?

I do. I call Him the “just-in-time God.”

What other career, besides writing, does waiting play such a leading role? Waiting for a response to a query. Then waiting to hear back about a requested manuscript. Waiting to find out if a publisher shows a spark of interest. Finally, waiting for a contract to follow.
Waiting, waiting, and more waiting. Waiting feels like inactivity.

Three thousand years ago, the Israelites had the same restless anxiety as they waited for God. If they didn’t see action, they assumed it was because there was no action.

During the forty days in which Moses was up on Mount Sinai with God, the Israelites lost patient and were filled with doubts. “When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, ‘Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him’” (Exodus 32:1).

You know the rest. Aaron complied and made a golden calf for the Israelites to worship. God gave Moses the heads-up to get down the mountain but fast. “When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them into pieces at the foot of the mountain” (Exodus 32:19).

The wait overwhelmed them. Those foolish Israelites assumed that apparent inactivity on God’s part meant impotence. But here’s the thing: the exact opposite was true. God was delivering the Law to Moses. He was handcrafting the stone tablets to provide structure and peace within their society. He was teaching Moses how to worship. He was tenderly caring and providing for the Israelites’ future.

Think how differently this situation could have turned out had the Israelites waited patiently, expectantly, faithfully. Odd to think that in their anxiety, they had a desire to connect with...something greater than themselves. What if they had had taken the “wait” and substituted it with “worship?” Imagine if their attitude had been the same as the writer of Lamentations: “In this stillness, I wait, Sovereign God. It is good to wait quietly for you.” (Lamentations 3:26, tlb).

Think how differently situations could turn out in our own life if we could only wait quietly for God. If we used times of waiting—for a query letter to be answered or for an editor to respond—as reminders to worship God?

Do you ever feel as if inactivity on God’s part equals impotence? During periods of apparent inactivity God may be preparing a wonderful opportunity for you in your writing career. Who knows what is going on behind the scenes? All that we really know is that our work is committed to Him and that includes its outcome. Never forget that God is working on your behalf. He might be slow, but He is never late.

“With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (2 Peter 3:8, niv).

The Keeper

Life on Windmill Farm hasn’t been the same since Julia Lapp’s father has had trouble with his heart. But that doesn’t stop Julia from hoping for a bright future. She has planned on marrying Paul Fisher since she was a girl. Now twenty-one, she looks forward to their wedding with giddy anticipation. But when Paul tells her he wants to postpone the wedding—again—she is determined to change his mind. She knows who is to blame for Paul’s sudden reluctance to wed: the Bee Man.

Roman Troyer, the Bee man, travels through the Amish communities of Ohio and Pennsylvania with his hives full of bees, renting them out to farmers in need of pollinators. A mysterious man who relishes his nomadic life, Roman especially enjoys bringing his bees to Stoney Ridge each year. But with Julia seriously at odds with him, Windmill Farm is looking decidedly less appealing.

Can Julia secure the future she’s always dreamed of? Or does God have something else in mind? 

11 comments:

Lynette Eason said...

What if they had had taken the “wait” and substituted it with “worship?”

This struck me! Thanks for the reminder. We have been trying to sell our house for TWO YEARS. I have been waiting...but not worshiping. That stops now.

Thank you for this post today.

God Bless you in you writing!
Lynette

Ane Mulligan said...

I remember our ACFW conference in Denver. The "theme" song was "I Will Worship While I'm Waiting." That spoke so loudly to me. I'm still waiting but I AM worshiping. I've learned He's an On-time God. :) THanks for refueling with us, Suzanne.

Jan Drexler said...

Hi Suzanne,

Thanks so much for the reminder - you're right, God is never late, He's always right on time.

I've enjoyed your books, and I'm looking forward to The Keeper!

And we have a common thread in our Anabaptist heritage - I was raised in the Church of the Brethren. It isn't as conservative as the Old Order German Baptist Brethren, but not many generations removed from the Plain people.

Blessings on your writing!

Niki Turner said...

Excellent reminder! Thank you!

Janice C Johnson said...

"Think how differently situations could turn out in our own life if we could only wait quietly for God."
Sounds to me as if patient waiting, knowing that God is working unseen, IS worship! What an encouraging post; thank you.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

I needed this today. Yes, it seems like no other profession is so chock-full of opportunities to a)think we're worthless writers b/c we haven't heard back from that query/proposal/pitch, throwing us into the depths of despair, or b)continue writing in the face of all odds, using tons of time and making everyone think we're crazy for continuing to beat our heads against the wall.

Thankfully, God sends encouragement if we're following him--through other friends, blog readers, and writers who've been through this process, like YOU! Thank you!

Suzanne said...

Loved these comments! Thanks so much for reading this blog post and sharing from your own experiences.

So much "waiting" goes on in our writerly lives. Hangeth thou in there! Warmly, Suzanne

Sarah Sundin said...

Suzanne - fabulous post! The waiting years were definitely painful and perplexing for me, but I wouldn't give them up for anything. If I'd received a contract when I first submitted, I might have been tempted to see my own talents as the source of the blessing (ick). But the waiting showed me clearly that all good gifts come from the Lord. His will. His purpose. His timing.

Those waiting years caused great growth in my relationship with the Lord, and in my friendships too. Looking back, I see what God did in my life - and I'm so thankful He made me wait.

Gina Holmes said...

Great reminder! And once you're on the other side of the fence, it doesn't end. I turned in my next manuscript and am waiting to hear the verdict which could be anything from "this is great. Can't wait to get it to the readers" to "This won't work for us. What else you got?" I'm in a pause in several areas of my life and they're always uncomfortable, always make me question but I remember that God is in control. He always has come through. He always will. It's for a reason, all of it. And God's plans for us are always better than our own. The waiting phases as uncomfortable as they may be strengthen our faith. Or should.

Carrie Pagels said...

I read the entire post. Which is pretty amazing, Suzanne, because I am more of a doer. I have to make myself wait, pause, reflect, get somewhere a little early instead of late. When I was so ill a couple of years ago He had me wait. Spend time with Him. Trust Him. Now I am back to making myself take those pauses and acknowledge His timing, His work, His love as the bottom line. Thanks for sharing!

Cindy M. Jones said...

So encouraging, thanks for sharing!