Please welcome this weeks guest Sylvia Bambola for The Journey. She answers the question: How have you seen God work in your writing journey?
Years ago God spoke to me about writing a novel for the secular world. I believed it. I received it. There was no doubt in my mind that it was God even though He sounded nothing like Cecil B. DeMille. So, for two years I worked feverishly until finally the great American novel was ready. I had amassed a list of all the publishers I planned to favor with my submission. There was no stopping me now. After all, God said! One last edit, then off to glory. As I sat curled on the couch rereading my manuscript for what seemed like the hundredth time, a miracle occurred. Scales started falling from my eyes like tears. In fact, I began to cry as I saw, for the first time, how truly horrible my writing was. It was stilted, clichéd, and…boring.
“What happened, Lord?” I asked. The answer came back, “You never consulted Me.” Never once had I prayed before my writing sessions or asked the Lord’s direction. The rolled manuscript made a nice size log and as I watched the fire disintegrate two years of hard work, I learned a valuable lesson: God can…if we partner with Him.
Two more years of hard work produced a second manuscript, with each and every page a work of prayer. This time there was no long list of publishers I would favor, but only a handful that I had agonizingly wrenched while on my knees. Still, instead of receiving letters of interest, one rejection slip after another filled my mail box. Then, a small Christian organization that had nothing to do with publishing, got hold of my manuscript and wanted to publish it. At last! Now I was getting somewhere. I ignored the nagging check in my spirit. I was impatient for results. Four years of work and nothing to show for it was four years too long as far as I was concerned. Impatience is a slippery slope, and I had started on a disappointing ride. The book was amateurishly published and stocked in only one Christian bookstore because someone knew a friend of a friend, and there it proceeded to collect dust.
“What happened, Lord?” I asked. “Didn’t I tell you this was for the secular world?” came the still small voice. And what could I answer back? Nothing. I had failed to follow God’s leading. Now it was too late. The print run was beyond saving. Besides being unprofessional looking, it lacked an ISBN and Library of Congress number, without which it could never compete in the secular market. As I dragged twenty cartons of books to the curb for the garbage men, I learned another hard lesson. God can…if we are obedient.
Another six years came and went as I waited and prayed for the Lord’s timing and direction. I was determined not to move out prematurely. Finally, the word came: I was to publish a revised edition of the novel myself! I could hardly believe my ears. In fact, I didn’t believe them. I didn’t want to. I wanted simple-easy, not complicated-hard. “But I know nothing about the publishing business,” I wailed. “Learn,” was the reply.
For the next year I studied, learned, worked. Often I put in 12 to 14-hr days. Finally, the manuscript was tuned into a hardcover book. Then came another year of studying, learning, working to market it. It was the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life. But as the book orders came in I was stunned. Instead of the hundreds I envisioned, they were onesy-twoseys. This continued for months. Inside, emotions were building. I began to feel tired, depressed, discouraged. It was only a matter of time before I would have a show-down with God. Like the dam that could no longer be plugged, my thin veneer of self-control ruptured. “Haven’t I prayed and sought Your Face? Haven’t I tried to obey You in everything?” I felt let-down, abandoned. “You said!” I whined, trying to drive the point home, and show God how unfair He had been. Self-pity has it own momentum, and I was on a roll. “You…You disappointed me!” I continued, forgetting the thousand times I had disappointed Him.
What happened during the next hours, days and weeks was miraculous. Circumcision was going on, surgery of the most delicate nature, as God patiently and lovingly began to show me how His yardstick for success was totally different from the world’s. As I lay prostrate on the floor before Him, I began to understand that we will never totally comprehend His master plan for truly “we see though a glass darkly.” And then it didn’t seem so important anymore to have to. What difference did it make if I sold one book or one million? That was God’s department. My part was to simply obey and let Him use the fruit of my obedience in any way He chose. It was then that I submitted it all to Him. I forgot my preconceived ideas. It was His. He was Lord. Period. Another lesson had been learned. God can…if we are submitted.
After looking back at those years I see something else too. God has. He has been working, pruning, refining. While I had been concentrating on the here and now, He had been patiently doing kingdom work in me, the benefits of which will be harvested throughout eternity. What is more important work than that? And isn’t that just like God? To do more than we could ask, or think or hope?
About the Author:
Born in Romania in 1945, Sylvia Bambola lived her early years in Germany. At seven she relocated with her adopted family and saw the Statue of Liberty and America for the first time. But the memory of those years in Germany inspired her to write Refiner’s Fire, which won a Silver Angel Award, and was a Christy Finalist. Her first novel, A Vessel of Honor, written under the pen name of Margaret Miller, garnered a Small Press Editor’s Choice Award and was seriously considered for production as a television movie. Her new historical novel, Rebekah’s Treasure, is the first place winner for Adult Fiction in the Florida State Association National League of American Pen Women. Bambola has authored six novels, has two grown children, teaches women’s Bible studies, and is learning the guitar.
Where to find her book:
Barns & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rebekahs-treasure-sylvia-bambola/1118113468?ean=9780989970747
Book Stores Everywhere: Can be ordered at any bookstore
Kristena Tunstall says
Sylvia, thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. It seems we all go down different roads to publication. I think we all grow in our own ways as we travel down it but in the end it’s all worth it and we feel so blessed as a result.
Sylvia Bambola says
Kristena, you are so right. God doesn’t make cookie-cutter people. We are all different and He deals with us differently. But one thing that is the same, God is always kind and patient. And that’s humbling.
Kristena Tunstall says
Sylvia, you are so right about God and as a result we are all blessed in the end.
Jean Williams says
How heart wrenching! I cringed as I read, understanding how much we do have to wait on the Lord. I, too, finally gave my work to the Lord at year 14 with articles published (praise God!) and no books as yet. Now, five years later, I enjoy my novel writing so much more and have had scales drop from my eyes as to how much I still need to learn. And I found also that if I never publish a book, I so enjoy the writing journey. Thank you for sharing! God bless you.
Sylvia Bambola says
Jean, how good God is and so patient, too! He knows the longings of our heart but loves us enough to do what’s best for us. This writing life of ours is hard and often disappointing. But when we finally see the Lord, He’s not going to be impressed with how many books we’ve written but if we’ve obeyed His leading. I know as Christian writers we all want to hear Him say, “well done though good and faithful servant.” May God bless your writing!