Giving up on our Dreams (Journeys, part 1)

Last week I came close to settling in Haran. Where on earth is Haran, you may be asking, your fingers already poised to type it into Google. Let me explain.

Haran is the place on your life’s journey where you decide enough is enough; you’re not going any further on this futile voyage. It’s the place where you convince yourself you’ve come far enough and let go of your dream to go any further.

It’s what happened to Terah, who God had called to journey to the Promised Land, long before he called his son Abram:

“Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai, and his grandson Lot and left Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan. But they stopped instead at the village of Haran and settled there.” (Gen 11:31)

Let me tell you a little about the journey God has had me on. Many of you know that I’ve been writing a book. I can’t even remember exactly when I started writing it, but let’s just say it’s been a while – four years at least. Then I typed “The End” the first time, I was overjoyed. Mission accomplished. Destination reached. Now to send it to a publisher, who would snap it up in no time. After I ran a spell check. Well, it needed a little more than a spell check. A few months later, I’d done a pretty big revision on my manuscript and started sending out query letters.

Most of the feedback I received was that the book was too long for the Young Adult market, and no pointing out that JK Rowling’s books were much longer seemed to make much difference. An author who I met for some mentoring suggested I turn the concept of the book into a trilogy. Great advice. However, it required…you guessed it…re-writing. Plenty of it.

In October, I finished writing Book 1 of the Poison Tree Path Chronicles, printed it out and slipped it into a suitcase heading for Kenya. I was off to LittWorld, a Christian Publishing conference, hoping to come one step closer to fulfilling my dream.

And I did. Sort of.

A well respected British publisher read 12 chapters of my manuscript over the course of the week, and then gave me extremely valuable feedback on how I could improve the characters, plot and setting. Initially I was excited by the advice and then I started to think about it.

Maybe that’s what Terah did too. Maybe the people around him started to sway his resolve.

“Canaan? Heavens, that’s a long way!”

“You’ve come so far already. Why don’t you just settle down here in Haran? It’s a fabulous town.”

“God said what? Are you sure you heard him right? Sounds a bit crazy to me.”

My friends weren’t saying this (in fact most have politely stopped asking about my book) but I was starting to doubt myself.

“Re-writing again? Heavens, that’s another few months of work!”

“You’ve come so far already with this book. Why don’t you just print a couple of copies for friends and family and be done with it?”

“Did I really hear God right? Is this truly a ministry He is calling me to? Maybe it’s all just in my head.”

I had arrived at my Haran.

I don’t know what or where your Haran is. Maybe it is—as for Terah—a physical place: a sense that this isn’t truly where you’re meant to be. Or it could be an attitude, a feeling that you’re too old, too uneducated, too busy to pursue your dream. Maybe—like me—you’re just tired that the journey is taking longer than you expected.

What finally got my feet moving again was the realization that I shouldn’t doubt in the dark what God had told me in the light. Haran was a dark place for me where, momentarily, I lost sight of God and His promises. But that didn’t mean His promises weren’t true.

Ultimately the reason I keep moving forward, is that I sense it’s where God is going. And even more important than reaching the destination, is staying with Him every step of the way.


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  1. Maddie and I have had those moments, Joan–as we seem to be stuck in a cycle of write/rewrites. But we also won’t give up–it’s where God is as you pointed out, and where we should be. The novel continues to evolve and we see that it is now something VERY different then it would have been a year ago or even two months ago. God is working some things in us–that we will bring forth in the written word.

    Keep going. You are a skilled and gifted writer.

    • It’s so good to have fellow-writers on the journey who can keep encouraging us to move forward. Thanks Lisa. And how precious to be writing a book with your daughter!

  2. Joan, I am so proud of ALL that you have done – you are so gifted and honest and wise, and so inspirational and encouraging. I have no doubt that you will finish your book and pray that God will bless it much – sometimes i find that a space ( settling in Haran) gives time to regroup and re-evaluate and sometimes gain another perspective. I often put a painting away for a few months because I can’t “see” it anymore. Often helps…

  3. What a wonderfully, inspiring post. This is exactly what I needed to hear today as I have just reached the four year mark with the book I’ve been writing for what seems like forever. I actually put it aside for 6 months and just today picked it up again and prayed asking God to give me clarity and vision for His will for this book and my writing. Then I stumbled upon your blog. Thank you!

    • Thanks so much for blessing ME with your encouragement Renee. Isn’t that the reason we write? To let God use us to touch each other’s lives in small ways. 🙂

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