by Cynthia Ruchti
It’s the contest season. From small local contests to large, nationally recognized awards, it’s the season for mailing in entries and entry fees, for waiting to hear about finalists, and waiting longer to find out if the book resonated with the judging committees.
The Blur of Awards
Philosophies for the shoulds or should nots of contests abound.There are obvious
marketing benefits for an author’s career or an aspiring author’s journey forward, if nothing more than evidence that it isn’t only Mom who sees value in the story.
We know dangers lurk in contests, too. Comparisons, out of control competitiveness, self-aggrandizement, caring more about the contest results than the content of the story.

If we live our lives under the warm glow of kudos from humans but fail to gain the Lord’s approval, we’ve lost it all. If we gain no recognition or appreciation from our peers or the industry, but hear the Lord’s applause when our life is through, we have gained all. His is the opinion that matters most. We know it. We tell ourselves it’s true.
Plaques and accolades, honors and medals and certificates of achievement will all remain earthbound, which eventually leads to rust, dust, disintegration of the paper, the metal, the glass, the plastic. The awards fade, tarnish, and wind up in the bottom of a drawer, on the back shelf of the closet, in a trunk in the attic, or on a card table at a garage sale.
Not one of them can follow us beyond death. Earth’s honors have a short shelf-life.
But the reverberations from the Lord’s simple applause–“Well done, good and faithful servant”–ring fadeless throughout eternity.
Imagine kneeling in the presence of the Lord as He reviews the course of your life, the choices you made, the sacrifices, the effort you put into asking His help in righting any wrongs you’ve done, the attitude with which you served Him and others. Now imagine seeing Him rise to His feet and personally begin a round of applause that echoes through heaven.
Nothing we do or don’t do can change God’s love for us. It is constant and unwavering.
But in whatever ways you seek approval, ask yourself today if you have put excessive stock in gaining the applause of people to the neglect of the faithfulness that is a catalyst for God’s standing ovation.
The question doesn’t go away as a writer’s career grows. Maybe we should daily rehearse David’s prayer: “Examine me, God! Look at my heart! Put me to the test! Know my anxious thoughts! Look to see if there is any idolatrous way in me, then lead me on the eternal path!” Psalm 139:23-24 Common English Bible.