Three and a half years ago God gave me a promise. Now I’m not one of those people who hear clearly from God on a daily basis. For me it’s always a lot hazier than that. I might hear a sermon on a specific verse and read the same verse in a book later that day; I take that as God speaking to me. I might get a sudden sense of clarity in a situation, or a particular feeling of peace surrounding a struggle. Sometimes, like John Wesley, ‘my heart is strangely warmed’.
But three and a half years ago I sat in my garden, praying about the book I had spent the last three years writing. At that time I had been searching for a publisher for a few months. When I was writing “The Chains of Gwyndorr,” I had the naïve notion that once I had completed it, I would contact a few publishers and one of them would snap it up. Now disillusionment was beginning to set in. Few of the query letters I sent out even got a response. Those that did always included phrases like ‘…does not suit our purposes…’ or ‘…am unable to consider…’
But that day God spoke to me. Not in an audible way, mind you. Still, His words pressed into my heart in a way I had never experienced before. And His words were this: I will bring down the walls. Jericho came to mind, with its impenetrable walls, cracking and crumbling to the ground at God’s command.
As time passed, I clung to those words. There were days I believed them more strongly than others. Some days I doubted however, wondering if I had truly heard from God or if it was just something I had conjured in my own mind. Other days I debated whether I had understood God correctly. Did He perhaps mean different walls, rather than the impassable publishing walls that I kept battering up against?
Yet, I also began to sense a quiet shifting in my life. Opportunities to attend a South African writing conference, which led me on to the 2012 LittWorld Christian Publishing conference in Kenya. The wonderful (and terrifying) opportunity to speak to a British publisher, who read several chapters of my book and gave me two pages of insightful suggestions, which I incorporated into an intensive re-write. Writer, Robin Jones Gunn, putting me in touch with a publisher. A literary agent who agreed to take me on as a client.
Yes! Things were finally moving and I was excited…until they ground to a halt again, that is. The publisher Robin put me in touch with sold his publishing house. The silence and rejection from publishers resumed. My literary agent resigned from the agency. I was back where I began, except that I had run out of doors to knock on. Still God’s words echoed through my mind: I will bring down the walls.
And it had never seemed less likely.
I wish I could say that I waited on God with serenity and patience; most of the time I didn’t. Yet, strange as it sounds, I did begin to gain some appreciation that God was withholding what I longed for so much. There was another shift taking place now, deeper and far more significant than before—a shift in my heart. I was learning that God had to be the centre of my life, that my book must not be an idol to me. I came to a point of surrender. If a publishing contract was not to be, I would trust that God knew best and accept His will. I realised too, that I simply had to write, whether my words were published or not. Writing filled me with joy, much like Eric Liddell said about running in ‘Chariots of Fire’: ‘God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” I was also spurred on to self-publish my book “Encounters”.
Then, on the 23rd of April 2015, the walls finally cracked, teetered and imploded into dust. I opened an email from Steve Laube at Enclave Publishing. It read:
“If you are still waiting then I would like to make an offer to you to publish with Enclave Publishing”.
Just like that God had fulfilled His promise. God had brought down the walls.
I cannot even begin to express the excitement of that moment. But more than any other emotion, I felt a sense of awe. Awe at the power of a God who can do the impossible with such ease. Awe at the faithfulness of a God who fulfils every promise He makes. Awe that I—so undeserving—would find favour with Him and that He would consider my books something He could use to touch lives.
So today I want to encourage each of you: cling! Cling to God and to every promise of the powerful and faithful Promise-Keeper, even when you feel hopeless and forgotten. He never forgets you or the promises He has made.
Read the 2nd part of my journey: Journey to Publication – Deadlines and Insecurity
I wrote this Psalm on the day I received the news of my contract: