Monday, September 24, 2007
For such a time as this . . . .
Over the past year, I have experienced having my first novel published, a book launch, interviews on local talk radio and on 100 Huntley Street.
These experiences have been wonderful in their own way, but in reading Nancy's post from a couple of days ago, and Marci's from yesterday, I am reminded of those times when God reveals to us a little moment where it is so crystal clear that we are in His will. What joy those moments are, and so often they are about small things, like Nancy's description of helping an old lady across the street in a strange, dreary-looking neighborhood.
Several years ago, I made a practice of visiting a friend who was in hospital being treated for cancer. I always found it an effort to go. Many, many other activities would have been preferable. But one day, out of mere habit, feeling spiritually dry but having committed myself to doing this, I forced myself to head out into the winter morning, scrape the ice off the car, and drive to the Ottawa General on my day off work. My friend, Mabel, had received a bout of radiation the day before, so I did not know that her daughter had told family members not to visit that day so her mother could rest.
What her daughter didn't know was the doctors planned to give Mabel a chemotherapy injection that morning. She had cancer in her spine, and a previous operation had cut a small hole in her skull for chemo injections that would carry the cancer-fighting chemicals as close to the tumors as possible. I asked Mabel if she wanted me to stay, and she did.
So, I happened to be there when a doctor or nurse injected a large syringe full of a yellow liquid into Mabel's skull hole, then left the room.
Mabel became scary sick within minutes of the injection. I raced out to get a doctor. Then she settled down for a couple of hours of abject misery and I stood by to help her back and forth to the bathroom---she was tremendously frail---or to hold a vomit basin for her.
It was while holding that blue plastic basin that I had one of those moments of perfect peace, knowing that I was created for that moment to be there for Mabel, even though I hate hospitals, I could never, ever imagine becoming a nurse and like any of you, I don't particularly like smelly bodily fluids. The fact that I had come, after the family had been asked not to, became a sign to that family of God's loving care for their mother, sister, and aunt. That was so rewarding to see a glimpse of God working and knowing that He used you for his glory, even though your participation had been, well, in my case, perhaps even grudging.
While my book launch was a joyous occasion, I did not feel the heavens part in the same way. There have been times I've received glimpses of the plan, though.
About a month after my launch, an old friend invited me on his talk radio program and had me stay for the whole two hours. It was a magical interview, probably the highlight of my publicity tour, even more gratifying than being on Huntley Street, though that was a wonderful experience, too. But again, while these experiences made me high, they were not quite the same as those small but clear signs, like glowing breadcrumbs, that yes, Deborah, you are on the path I have set out for you.
But one followed shortly afterwards. I did a book signing at Salem Storehouse a few days after I had done the radio interview. Because The Defilers was sold out in Ottawa the afternoon of the interview, I had to bring some books from my own private stash to Salem for the signing. We sold about ten books, and I had only one left. Out in the parking lot, I had just put the big poster of the book cover into my Toyota's trunk, when a woman who had just parked her car strode over to me, asking if the book signing was over. She had heard me on the radio a few days before and had driven an hour and a half to buy a book. She needed it for her daughter who was struggling with her faith. Had she rolled into the parking lot a minute later, I would have missed her. She was able to get a signed copy of the book, and because the signing was officially over, it was easy for me to take a moment aside to pray with her for her daughter.
I sometimes think that our writing life is very much like my hospital-visiting experience. Sometimes it's hard slogging. You get up and you write because you've made a commitment to meet a deadline or finish a manuscript. You work on snappy query letters and professional proposals even though you might prefer a trip to the dentist. You get rejection letters. You wonder whether any of it is worth it. But then some small thing happens that lets you know, yes, you are in My will, you are exactly where I want you to be and here's an opportunity to be Me for someone, and something to do with your writing life put you in those circumstances.
Those moments make up for any lack of success. They even surpass the joy of getting a contract, or launching a book.
One day in His courts is better than ten thousand elsewhere. I pray that God will open your eyes today to what He is doing in your life through you for the Kingdom and that you will receive a token, a sign of His grace that will keep you going through those times of wilderness and hard slogging.
Deborah Gyapong covers politics and religions for Catholic and Evangelical newspapers. Her first novel, The Defilers, won the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award in 2005. In 2007, it won an Award of Merit in The Word Guild's contemporary novel category.
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