This morning, I finished reading the last chapter of Leviticus as I continue on my journey through the Bible in 2011. I found the next to the last chapter (26), which is about both the blessings of obedience and the penalties of disobedience, worth a careful, slow read.
However, it was my BSF study of Isaiah 42:1-17 that I most enjoyed today. There is a great deal to love about these 17 verses, but there is one in particular that is meaningful to me.
In 1997, I prayed for many months, waiting for God's direction about my writing career. While I had an idea for what was obviously a novel suited for the Christian market, I didn't want to simply seek a new market. I needed to know that this was a call from God on my life. I even had an offer from a publisher for this book and two more, but I was unable to say yes or no until I heard clearly from Him. Once I heard Him, I said yes. I told my agent to begin negotiating the fine points of the contract.
Here's the rest of the story, as I shared over on Fact and Fiction back in 2005:
Around 2:00 a.m. the next morning, after agreeing to the three book contract from Publisher #5, I woke up in a cold sweat. If I'd been buying a house, I would have called it "buyer's remorse." I was scared stiff about this new commitment.
My fear wasn't because I didn't want to write for WaterBrook. It was because the deal had been struck based upon a dream and an experience from my past — and nothing else. I had no synopsis, no plot, no experience in writing contemporary or Christian fiction. I didn't know if I could do it. And if I couldn't do it, I wouldn't just be failing myself and my publisher. I would be failing God.
Yep. Full fledged panic attack.
I went into my office, pulled out my Bible and started to read. My mind was so blank, I couldn't even pray. As "chance" would have it, I was reading through the Old Testament at the time and was in Isaiah. About 15 minutes into my mindless, fearful reading, I came to this passage:
"And I will lead the blind by a way they do not know,
In paths they do not know I will guide them.
I will make darkness into light before them
And rugged places into plains.
These are the things I will do,
And I will not leave them undone."
(Isaiah 42:16, NASB)
Everything inside me grew still. I knew the Lord was speaking to my heart. The book that I was about to write had come from Him. He'd given me that dream, and He'd drawn me from where I'd been to where I was, and He would take me to where I was going. I didn't have to know what the book was about or how to write it, because He did know. I was blind but God wasn't. He was going to lead and guide me. He was going to make the rugged places into plains.
I guess you can tell why I love this verse so much. It is seared into my brain and into my heart. All the more so because the Lord did all that He'd promised. He led me in paths I didn't know, and He turned darkness into light before me. He made rugged places into plains, and He didn't leave anything undone.
That first book for the CBA, The Forgiving Hour, became such a meaningful book, to me and to my readers. The writing of it was unlike any of the nearly 30 that had gone before. It is frequently listed as a reader's favorite among my books. Although it has been out of print for a number of years, I'm excited that it will soon be released again. At first as an ebook for digital reading devices, and hopefully a print edition will follow.
I'm so thankful that He continues to prove Himself faithful and to lead me in those rugged places in life.