by Marcia Lee Laycock, @MarciaLaycock

“I’m sorry,” the store owner said, “I can’t put these books on the shelf. There are too many mistakes in them. Not the quality I’ve been used to seeing in your work.”

I stared at the books on the counter, small pink strips sticking out of the pages. I stammered a bit and thanked her, telling her I appreciated that she had taken the time to do this. Red-faced, I gathered the books and left the shop as quickly as I could.

All the way home I wondered how there could be so many mistakes. The books had been read by a few people and I thought the editing was done. How could I have let this happen? By the time I got home I was under a crushing weight of self doubt that approached despair.

I went through each of the three manuscripts on my computer, checking all the mistakes that store owner had marked. Almost all of them had already been corrected. It was with a sigh of relief that I realized what had happened. I had uploaded the wrong files to the printer.

Yes, I was relieved and also grateful for that woman’s courage and honesty, even though it was dispiriting, perhaps more than it should have been.

I thought about that recently as I listened to a speaker at a Christian School Teacher’s convention talk about where we put our value and significance. Once again, I was reminded that my value to my heavenly father does not depend on my writing, how eloquent or free of typos it may or may not be. My significance and value is dependant only on His opinion me. And my father loves me. No matter what.

I went to that convention holding my breath. The cost to be there, with my six-foot table piled with books, was a bit high. I’d ordered extra books, “just in case.” I hoped it was worth it. I hoped the sales justified the cost. I felt God had led me there and I’d prayed, so I hoped God would come through for me.

And once again, through the speaker’s messages, I was reminded that my focus was off. Yes, the Lord got me to that conference but I know now He was not so concerned about my book sales as the state of my relationship with Him. I’d fallen into the trap of looking to God for what He could do for me rather than just looking to God, listening to God, longing for God. As Skye Jathani said, the specific calling on my life (to be a writer) does not matter because of the work, but because of the One who has called me to it.

It wasn’t a bad thing that I was embarrassed about the mistakes in those books. It’s a good thing to strive for excellence. But it was a bad thing that my soul was crushed, that I began listening to the voices that said I should just give up, quit writing, find something else to do.

Ironically, I did need to do something else – I needed to run to the only One who can satisfy my soul, ask Him to forgive my foolishness and submit my life and my work to Him, once again.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1).

One Smooth Stone

Desperate to escape his past, the police, and especially, God, Alex Donnelly picks a good place to hide – the Yukon wilderness – but he finds even there his is pursued. What will it take for him to discover that no matter how far you run, God will find you, and no matter what you have done, God will forgive you?

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was short listed in The Word Awards. Marcia also has four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.