I thought I was doing God’s will God’s way.
But I was wrong.
What I was doing was God’s will my way.
And, as I was about to learn, there’s a difference.
When I first embarked on this God-given adventure called writing in November 2015, I had absolutely NO IDEA what I was doing.
I’d always written well, research papers essays, and such. But devotionals and Bible studies? Nope. That was outside my wheelhouse. And publishing? No thanks. That was an alien dimension I had no intention of visiting.
But after 9 months of me trying to explain this to Him, God reminded me this calling wasn’t about me. Nor was it about me doing what He called me to do. It was about HIM doing it THROUGH me.
How would you respond to that?
Me? I began to (try to) write.
As I pecked away at my keyboard I started doing research. I read books, blogs, and other articles. I attended conferences and engaged in online courses/training. I talked to professionals—various authors, acquisition editors, and agents. I was drinking from a fire hose, determined to absorb every last drop. Eventually, I began to learn what this writing and publishing thing is all about. How to do it well. What the requirements are. What my options are. And the steps I need to take.
And as I learned, I dreamed. As I dreamed, I prayed. As I prayed, I hoped—but I never quite believed.
To become a traditionally published author. To become a speaker/Bible teacher to primarily young adults. I want to introduce the lost to Jesus. But my passion is to show Believers the trill waiting for them in Scripture’s pages! I knew I could do the writing part—but publishing? I wasn’t convinced.
In my heart, I believed as a writer I was a pretender. A fake. A fraud. I knew what God said, but I knew me. I knew my weaknesses. My failures. My shortcomings.
Can you relate?
But God reminded me Who He is. That His grace IS sufficient and His strength overcomes my weaknesses. I just needed to trust Him and remember this was his plan. His will.
And I believed Him. Mostly.
So, I started writing with purpose. And as I poured myself into my work I grew as a writer…and a Believer.
Fast-forward to July 2018.
An acquisitions editor from Harvest House Publishing invited me to submit a book proposal (an in-depth description of what the Bible study/book is about)! I couldn’t believe it! But she put her card in my hand and said she was looking forward to hearing from me.
I was overwhelmed. Honored. And nervous! This was my chance! I may never get one like this again. All I could think was, “Don’t blow it, girl!”
I labored over the proposal for almost three weeks before submitting it. And then spent the next several weeks praying and pacing.
In our next correspondence, to my surprise, she asked for the Bible study’s written intro and the first week of lessons. An excellent sign! Can you imagine my elation?
But a few weeks later I got The Letter. I was rejected because “no one is doing Bible studies anymore. Especially not from new authors. The Big Three suck all the oxygen out of the market.” (Beth Moore, Priscilla Shrirer, and Lysa TerKeurst) It didn’t matter that she and the board absolutely loved what I’d sent. It didn’t matter that they found it “engaging” and enjoyed my “fresh voice” and “dynamic writing style.” What mattered is they didn’t believe they could sell it.
How would you respond to this disappointment?
I was devastated. Did I hear God wrong? What is going on?
“Trust me,” He whispered.
I tried. I really did.
Now jump to the first week of June 2019.
My old pastor asked me to write an in-depth study to accompany his upcoming fall 2019 sermon series on the life of David. He said all the small groups on all four campuses would simultaneously do the study and the congregations would be strongly encouraged to do it as well.
Now, If you’re a writer your eye is probably twitching due to the tight timeline. But at the same time, you know what a God-gift this opportunity was.
If you’re not a writer, let me explain.
Every quality article or blog post you read in 10-15 minutes can take the author HOURS—days or weeks to research, write, edit, rewrite, edit, (repeat) and finalize before releasing. (For example, my last blog post in this series took over 30 hours to write. And the one before that took almost two weeks.) Books can take several years to complete before the publishing process even begins.
For this project, I was to write an 8-week in-depth Bible study with 5 days of homework for each week, totaling 40 lessons. And I had about 13 weeks to complete it. However, as I wasn’t going to be paid for my work, the content would belong to me, not to the church, so I would be able to publish it at a later date if I wish. And if this went well, this could be an annual thing—with a greater lead time for writing, of course. In other words, my church would do my studies, I would collect the feedback, rewrite/edit where needed, and try the publishing thing again.
This opportunity was a God-gift because it allowed me to use my gifts to serve my home church—something I’d prayed for for over 3 years. See, I firmly believe when God calls us to ministry our ministry must start in our homes. From that foundation, it should flow into our church; and then go to wherever God opens doors.
As an added bonus, I was promised the opportunity to invite my church to partner in prayer for my ministry when I introduced the study on launch Sunday. I wasn’t going to ask for patrons or subscribers to my email list. Just prayer. Because we all know when we’re doing what God’s called us to do The Enemy is going to do anything and everything he can to destroy it and you. Hence the need for prayer.
How would you respond to this opportunity?
All summer I wrote 16-18 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 13 weeks, determined to finish on time.
There were days I was so exhausted I couldn’t face my computer. Days I couldn’t put one more sentence together. Days I was too weary to even cry. But then a friend would reach out to the prayer team and they would immediately hit their knees. And the instant they began to pray, I would feel the oppressive exhaustion lift allowing words to flow into my heart and mind—and onto my screen. Beloved, Only God could do that!
Add to that, my pastor’s constant encouragement and my family’s prayerful and practical support—I KNEW I would make it. I was also confident God would not only do something amazing with this study but also in my walk with Him and ministry. I could see it all coming together. I could see the doors opening and the dreams coming true. I was excited. Exhausted. But excited!
And on September 6, 2019, I officially finished writing and submitted the last piece of the study. I laughed so hard I ugly cried. The joy was inexplicable and overwhelming. The moment was absolutely surreal. All the sacrifices were suddenly worth it. All the challenges. Spiritual battles. Hours of missed sleep. Lost vacations, time with my family, summer boat rides, and bonfires. Everything. All I could do was praise The One who did it through me because what I experienced during this torrential writing process changed me, my life, and my ministry forever!
Then I slept for about 12 hours.
The next day anxiety gripped me by the throat.
I began to fear the feedback. Was it good enough? Was I good enough? Did I do it right? Did I disobey God? I knew these were attacks from The Enemy, but I was so exhausted I didn’t have the strength to fight them.
Then I started to sense something about the promises I’d been given wasn’t right. I started asking what the plan was for the launch and my introduction…and was repeatedly ghosted.
When launch day came, my fears were my reality. All the promises made to me were broken. Every. Last. One.
I didn’t get to introduce the study, myself, or my ministry. One of the pastors who had nothing to do with the study “introduced” it as “devos you don’t want to miss.” As a result, few knew about it or participated. As for the small groups, my old pastor wrote something else for them to do without telling me and only one group participated. But more on that later.
How would you respond to this betrayal?
I was devastated.
When I tried to talk to my pastor about this I was told, “Sorry, there was a change of plans. No hard feelings, right?”
Wrong! This was not our agreement.
In a nutshell I was told they couldn’t use my study. It was too deep, too much. They didn’t believe anyone would do it.
All of which were a pile of excuses.
But what I was told next stunned me: The truth is, Cheyenne, you the Bible too literally.
Crushed. Broken. Shredded. Wrecked. I felt used. Stabbed in the back. Pushed aside like I didn’t matter. My hard work wasn’t wasted as much as it was stifled. Rage bubbled up resurrecting devastating wounds from past church-hurt I thought I’d healed from. But I was wrong. Wounds I thought were part of my past we now fused with those of the present. I felt ripped open—gaping, open ugly, and raw.
Needless to say, I tumbled head-long into the valley. Into the darkest season of my entire life—including when I healed from the past trauma of sexual abuse.
Some friends prayed for me. Others walked away. My family supported, loved, and prayed for me. But could do little else.
God slowly began to isolate me from everyone I was close to. Everyone I would lean on. He allowed none to walk alongside me.
He reserved that place for Himself.
Then, from somewhere deep in my soul He whispered, “I’m here, Baby. I’ve always been here. I’ve never left you. Now, Trust Me.”
This was as much as an invitation as it was a command. An invitation to believe Him. A command to TRUST HIM rather than becoming angry, cynical, and bitter.
I told Him I had a right to feel as I do as the rage and tears gushed out of me. I wept bitterly as I told Him I was angry. I was hurt. Then I told Him I was just doing what He told me to do. That I did trust Him. But it all went wrong.
And He listened, the said, “You’re right. You have that right. But I’m challenging you to forego that right and Trust Me. The truth is you were doing my will, but you were doing it your way. So come with me. Follow me into the wilderness and I will teach you how to do My will My way. What’s it going to be?”
How would you answer that question?
To be continued…
Until next time,