The Books You Never Publish

Sometimes I go back and look over all my hopeful prayers about books I wrote that nobody published. I recently read in my prayer journal how certain I was that God was leading in this way or that way, with this novel or that nonfiction book. I just knew He’d grant all my dreams to publish all my novels. I just knew it.

I told God exactly how it would go. I could see it all in my mind.

Maybe you see exactly how it will go for you. You can see it clearly like I thought I could.

Once, I was even convinced I’d be a poet as my career. That’s what I knew God was doing.

Since I keep such a record of prayers and convictions–both in journal form and in the actual pages of my Bible–I come smack against my own history every time I sit down to spend time with the Lord. What my past teaches me is that we produce the work God ordains for our lives, but He is in charge of where, how, and when the harvest occurs. He ordains the fruit. He might use our writing powerfully and widely, in published form. He might not. It doesn’t ultimately matter. What matters is Jesus and what it meant to work alongside Him in worship and joy. What matters is how God used the writing to make me more like Jesus. My publishing plan can never matter more than Jesus.

(This is why, in my book Chosen for Christ, my favorite line is that we’re chosen for a Person, not a plan. Don’t you love that?)

And, what if our books have nothing to do with publication but everything to do with the healing that comes through narrative, as if we wrote stories we had to tell for our own benefit? What if our books were for the few and never the many? What if that book you hold in your hands is something to be kept between you and God forever?

As I continue now, all these years later, to publish and speak, I see what it meant to release the harvest into God’s hands. The harvest He ordains is perfect, on time, and for our good and His glory. I can release my work into God’s hands.

And my novels stay for the few. They stay between me and Jesus for now. And when I remind God I was supposed to be a poet, I write down the poem that only He can see.

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