In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.
- Brother David Steindl-Rast
We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him. (Romans 8:28)
Have you ever heard the expression “Without a great test, you can’t have a great testimony”?
I’d have to say “Amen” to that.
I was reflecting on that truth this week as I prepared to teach at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. When I began this journey as a writer, I received enough rejection letters to wallpaper my entire office. But, let me share, rejection doesn’t stop just because you have more than 60 books published. Rejection is simply part of the writing/publishing world.
Several years ago, my friend Gena Maselli and I signed a contract for our compilation book for women called Divine Stories of the Yahweh Sisterhood. We were so excited about this project. We had worked on it for more than six months, were contracted with a well-known publisher in the Christian Booksellers Association and met our copy deadline. Everything was moving forward, and we were praising God all the way.
Several weeks passed after we submitted the final draft and we still hadn’t heard from our publisher or received a copy of the signed contract for our records. Instead, we received a phone call letting us know that they had experienced a tough fiscal year and were forced to hand back several contracts–including ours.
We were stunned.
The test had begun.
Determined to find another publisher, we began submitting to every publishing house we thought might be remotely interested. We even hired an agent to represent the book for us, but nothing happened. No one seemed to want our book, yet we were sure we hadn’t missed God. We felt strongly we were supposed to write that manuscript.
Say that out loud right now, “But God.” When God steps in, things transpire in ways you never could have imagined. We were unsuccessful in our search for a publisher, but God had it all worked out–in his perfect timing. That summer I was asked to sign one of my other books at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS), and after my signing I headed to the food stand for a hot dog and a Diet Coke before my next author appearance. While standing in line, I noticed that the woman in front of me had adorable leopard print shoes, so I said, “I really love your shoes. Those are hot!” She smiled and said, “I was just going to compliment your handbag. That’s really beautiful.”
For the next several minutes, we discussed everything from our favorite designers to the best hair products on the market. I didn’t know much about this woman, except that we both shared the same first name and that I wanted to shop with her next time I was in town. With our lunch trays in hand, she asked me to share a table with her and we devoured hot dogs while discussing our purpose for being at ICRS. When she found out I was an author, she began asking about the types of books I wrote. I showed her my latest children’s book–the one I was signing at that show–and then I said, “And, I write inspirational humor and devotional books for women.”
“Really?” she asked, taking out a business card. “Because I’m the vice president of a publishing house in need of books for women.”
For the next 30 minutes, I told her about Gena’s and my book, and by the end of lunch, she was sold. She wanted to publish it, and she wanted to know what other books I might have to offer.
It was just one of those divine appointments–no doubt about it.
Divine Stories of the Yahweh Sisterhood was released in January 2006. In its first week of release, it sold more than 20,000 copies. That was a miracle, and it was because God stepped in and took over. It was definitely a test for Gena and me. We had to keep our hearts right and believe that God had called us to write that book and would finish what he had started.
Now we have a testimony that encourages other writers to hang onto their dreams. It’s a testimony I often share at conferences like BRMCWC, where I’m speaking today. I’m telling you what I tell all of the writers I encounter–don’t give up on the dream that God has placed inside of you. Not only will he make a way; he is the way! Stop trying to figure it out and just trust God. No matter how long you have to wait or how discouraged you may feel, don’t start murmuring and complaining. Stay in faith and “pass the test” because the testimony will be so sweet! Keep saying, “But God” and keep your heart full of joy. Now, take a deep breath and smile because your testimony is on the way...
Michelle Medlock Adams is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author, with more than 60 books and 1,000 articles for newspapers and magazines to her name. She was won several SELAH Awards (best children’s book and book of the year for God Knows You in 2014 and best children’s book for My Big Book of Prayers in 2012), and her book Divine Stories of the Yahweh Sisterhood was named a Family Christian Bookstores Premiere Pick in 2006. When not working on her own assignments, Michelle ghostwrites books for celebrities and some of today’s most effective and popular ministers.
Michelle is married to her high school sweetheart, Jeff. They have two college-aged daughters, Abby and Allyson, as well as a small petting zoo. When not writing or teaching writing, Michelle enjoys cheering on the Indiana University Men’s Basketball team, the Chicago Cubbies and the LA Kings. Find out more about Michelle at her website.