The Ultimate Goal

Recently, a friend wrote me an email. She was confused. She wanted to know if the waiting and the rejection could be God’s way of telling her to quit writing.

This isn’t uncommon. A lot of Christian writers question whether God wants them to quit. I know I’ve been there. But then I read verses like this:

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colosians 3:17
And it makes me think God cares a lot less about what we’re doing, and a lot more about our hearts in the midst of it.
In the years leading up to getting an agent, and then the long months before I got a book deal, I occasionally wrestled with the question, “Should I quit?” And through copious amounts of prayer, I realized that God wasn’t asking me to sacrifice my writing. He was asking me to sacrifice my dream. 
The writing was just what I was doing. I could do that to my heart’s delight. But my dreams? Those had a hold of my soul way more than the physicality of typing words on a computer. And God wanted me to give those dreams to Him.
So I did. Over and over and over again.

I didn’t stop writing. But I surrendered my hopes and my ambitions. I literally had to say, “Lord, I know I’m called to write. But only You know if I’m called to publish.” I put it on the altar and I asked that He would be my goal. That He would be my prize. That He would be my consuming passion. Not an agent or a book deal, but Jesus. 

That was my prayer. Every morning. I wrote. And surrendered. Wrote. And surrendered. More times than I can count.

You want to know what’s amazing?
God answered that prayer. I got to this crazy insane place where I started praising God for the waiting. Because that waiting was bringing me to my knees in a way I never would’ve been had I not passed through it. That waiting drew me into the very lap of Jesus. Where He truly did become my consuming passion. And the joy I experienced was off the hook. 
So when my friend wrote me that email, God reminded me that maybe I need to start surrendering again. 
Because His plan for me is publication. I got the agent and I got the book deal. But on this side of both, as amazing as they are, I can say, with 100% certainty, that they aren’t what ultimately satisfy.

Sure, it’s fun and exciting. When I got an agent, I was on cloud nine for a week. When I got a book deal, I was on cloud nine for another week. But then what? Life resumes and I’m left wanting more.

I used to think, “If I could just get an agent…” or “If I could just have a book on the shelf….” then I would be validated and fulfilled and good to go. But it’s a lie straight from Satan.

Because now I’m thinking, “If could just get good reviews…” or “If I could just sell this many copies…” And I find myself filled with insecurity and stress and doubt because God’s given me the desires of my heart and somewhere along the line, I’ve lost focus.

Somewhere along the line, I want more. Great reviews. Great sales. And it’s like this insidious monster that needs to be fed.
But you know what?
It will never be full.
It’s such a lie. Just like it’s a lie when the businessman thinks that next promotion will bring fulfillment. Or the lady thinks losing five more pounds will bring happiness. Sure, for a time it will. But what about when the excitement wears off and there’s another promotion to chase and another five pounds to lose? We’ll always want a little bit more. It’s like chasing the wind.
So as I responded to my friend, I knew God was asking me to get back to that place. Where I was waiting and facing rejection, but praising God in the midst of it. That place where my satisfaction, my identify, my everything is grounded in the unshakable foundation of Jesus Christ. Because the publishing industry is not going to satisfy. Not like we think it will before the book deal. 
We all have an Isaac. All of us have that one thing we hold too close to our hearts. It could be an agent or a book deal or good reviews or great sales or a husband or a child or promotion or a number on a scale or whatever.
God’s asking if we love Him enough to put our Isaac’s on the altar.
Let’s Talk: Do you fall into the trap of thinking that if you could just get an agent or a book deal or a certain sales number, you’d be happy? If you’re not a writer, what is it that you’re chasing? Might God be asking you to surrender it?

Yesterday, I read a post by Jody Hedlund about the inevitable identity crisis that happens after publication. I think this crisis is so popular because as writers, we’re tempted to make publication our “end prize”. But man, if that’s our “end prize”, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. 

Congratulations to Keli Gwyn! I used a random number generator to pick the winner of my super duper early book giveaway and Keli won! I hope you enjoy, Keli! 

22 thoughts on “The Ultimate Goal

  1. It’s all in the focus, isn’t it? When we keep our eyes on the Lord and offer ourselves as living sacrifices, we worship Him with everything in our lives.

  2. For some, the journey to publication is short. For others, it’s long. It’s so easy to get tunnel vision when you have a goal. But tunnel vision can be good if at the end of the tunnel we see Jesus. Then the rest is up to Him.

    I’ve always said talent is a gift from God with some assembly required. We need to do our part and leave the rest to God. 🙂

    Love the post, Katie.

  3. Thanks Katie for posting this–it is encouraging to hear that others are in the same place. Hugs!

  4. I love your heart Katie. You share your heart in a beautiful way.

    My husband has a plaque on his office wall.
    Don’t question in the dark, what God gave you in the light.

    That line has been a saving grace in our lives so many times in ministry, in life and in writing.

    I agree with what you are saying. When I started writing – I didn’t now why. For me in the beginning it was a step of obedience to God. But as soon as people found out I was writing the next question is ALWAYS are you published? Or are you getting published?
    As writers we set each other up for failure right out of the gate. As if there is no other possible thing you can do with your writing without getting published. This has been a year long recovery process for me – what if God never intends for my writing to be pub? Am I okay with that?
    After reading this I am reminded of the song ‘While I’m waiting’ by Jon Waller from the Fireproof movie.
    Thanks Katie. You inspire me.

  5. Praising God for the waiting is such an amazing place to exist. Because there He refines and matures the desires of our heart toward Him. People dislike the word “patience”, but it’s essential … so very essential.

  6. Holly Hassenzahl

    Truth truth truth. Love you.

  7. Loree Huebner

    Wonderful post. Trust is the key to everything in the life that God has to given us.

  8. Loved this today. So true and so very you. 🙂

  9. So much to say about this, it could be a blog post.
    As a matter of fact, I’d decided earlier to blog about this tomorrow over at In Others’ Words.
    Seems to be the theme this week. Maybe we’re all getting introspective as 2011 winds down.
    So, so good, Katie.
    I’ll be linking to your post & Jody’s too!

  10. I used to think just getting an agent was it but not anymore. Not when I’ve seen too many friends sign with agents and not sell anything for years. It’s definitely a stepping stone but not the victory it once was. I agree. We have to be happy where we are or we’ll never be happy.

  11. AMEN!
    He gives us dreams and talents, but if they come before loving him, following him…uh-uh. Then we get in trouble. Thanks for the reminder this morning. 🙂

  12. You filled me up this morning, Katie and I thank you. I loved what you said about surrounding the dream, knowing you were called to write, but maybe not called to publish. That can be such a hard pill to swallow, but boy one I have to keep reminding myself of. I can’t think of anything else I want to say…your post was excellent for me this morning, thank you!

  13. Awesome, awesome post, Katie. I love it! I’m at a point where I’ve written the first draft of my first novel. I have a few critique partners looking parts over for me, and the editing will soon begin. I’ve discovered that during the last few months, I was nearly consumed with this idea of writing, shooting for publication, etc. But I can’t live like that, as if this is my only goal in life and I will fail if I don’t get published. I can’t set all my hopes on that. Instead, I need to set all my hopes on God and let Him decide what happens with my writing. Focusing on and worrying about the future and what will happen with my writing is pointless (and exhausting!). Focusing on God and what He has for me right here, right now…well, that’s simply powerful and energizing.

  14. Great post!

    Like Keli, I had to give up my writing for a period to really let God take hold of my heart. About nine months after I’d given up writing, I received a publishing contract. The process of giving those dreams to God was difficult, but I’m so thankful for it.

    Like you said, it’s a continuous journey to make sure our eyes are always on Jesus.

  15. Linda Connelly

    This so resonates with me, thank you for posting this! Letting our desires get in the way of where God wants our hearts in anything we do is something we all need to carefully consider.

  16. I didn’t feel peace until I let it go.

    Seriously well worded here today, Katie.

    And the cool this is once I let it go (which ended up being a daily thing) that was when God made it most clear He was going to hand it back to me small bit by small bit.

    Now I just want to do Him proud with the pieces He’s given back.
    ~ Wendy

  17. Excellent post. I think this was one I needed to read and I thank you for your honesty as always Katie.

  18. Wow, such an awesome post, Katie. It’s soooo easy to lose perspective on this crazy journey. Just this morning, I was meditating on God’s word and He reminded me that He brought me to this very stage in my writing career for a purpose. And He wants me to rest in it and thank Him for it. I tend to get so sidetracked by the past and the future that I forget to praise Him for the present.

  19. Katie, like Jody’s post, this is such an important one. I think every writer, no matter where they are on the journey, faces this challenge. Every person in life faces this challenge. We all have an Isaac, maybe three. I’ve tried so many times to say what you’ve said so beautifully here. We have to find that reason within us to write that doesn’t require us to lose sight of what matters most. We have to do all things for God’s glory rather than our own.

    Even though I’m at such a different place than you or Jody, I think what you explain here is where I was about a month or two ago. And I think I’ll face it again. We have to continuously surrender.

  20. A beautiful truth here today, Katie. And how you handled the waiting time made all the difference. No matter what, He’s the exceedingly great reward. Not the writing, not the agent, not the publication. Him. Pretty sure I’m repeating myself, but it’s true!

    Big FAT LOVE on this post!!

  21. Like you, Katie, I reached a point when I gave my dreams of publication to the Lord. Sitting in church singing praise songs with tears in my eyes, I held out my hands and surrendered that which I’d been holding onto more tightly than I realized. A sense of peace enveloped me.

    Unlike you, I stopped writing for a year–other than dabbling at a contemporary that was headed nowhere fast. I spent that year studying craft as I floundered a bit and waited on the Lord to guide me.

    He did. While at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers conference in 2009, He used an interesting assortment of people as His messengers. I’d headed to the conference without expectations for a change, and the Lord blew me away. He showed me that I was to return to the historicals I love to write, gave me a shove, and sent me back into my fictional world. But this time He was running the show. =)

    I’m sooo excited about winning an ARC of Wildflowers from Winter and am eager to read the story!!!

    1. Katie Ganshert

      That is a beautiful testimony, Keli! Thanks for sharing! And I hope you enjoy Wildflowers!


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