Marcia Laycock is the winner of the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel One Smooth Stone. The sequel will be released soon. Her devotionals have won praise from Mark Buchanan, Phil Callaway, Janette Oke and others. Visit her at www.vinemarc.com
The room settled into a low hum as the group of women took their seats. I could hear the fire in a large stone hearth crackling behind me. The worship team had just taken us into the presence of God and I listened as the MC of the women’s retreat introduced me. It was testimony time. Again. I’ve done it so many times I don’t need my notes anymore, and every time I do it I realize how thankful I am for the grace and mercy of God. Looking back has its benefits.
But as I told my story that night I realized it isn’t a good idea to stay there. That story happened almost 30 years ago. The Lord has done a lot in my life since then. I’ve overcome obstacles and ploughed through rough ground, all with His help. Each milestone seemed like a stopping point. I would think, okay, now I’ve got it. I’ve arrived at that point called Christian maturity. But then something would happen and I’d realize, well, maybe I have a bit more to learn. Maybe I’m only half way up the mountain after all.
I loved rock climbing when I was young. My brother and I did it often, on the cliffs on the north shore of Lake Superior. That was so long ago that no-one bothered with things like ropes and harnesses and crampons. You just picked a spot and started to climb. The views from the top were amazing. But there was usually a point, about half way up, when we’d hesitate. The climb ahead looked formidable. Should we stop, should we go back? Author Billy Coffey talks about this same moment in his post on Rachel Gardner’s blog. I guess anyone who has climbed knows how that moment feels.
And anyone who has written knows it too. Coffey writes – “… maybe the climb never really ends for a writer. Maybe we are perpetually stuck in the middle, daily facing the choice of whether to stay where we are or chance a few more steps ahead.” I’ve known that moment too, of being “stuck in the middle.” When I signed my first contract and saw my first novel, One Smooth Stone, on a bookstore shelf, I thought, wow, I did it. I’m an author.
But, as Coffey states, it wasn’t long before I realized it wasn’t a stopping point. I was sitting on a comfortable ledge admiring the view but then realized I was only half way up the mountain. I wanted to bask in the glow of getting there and keep looking back, but I knew I had to take a deep breath and keep climbing. There was more that God had for me to do, more to teach me.
The Apostle Paul wrote – “…I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12b)
It thrills me to know He has taken hold of me. That knowledge gives me the courage to “press on,” as Paul says. There is a wider view awaiting, perhaps a wider audience, or perhaps just an audience of one, waiting for me to write the words that will change his or her life.
As writers we all reach that half way point. It’s not the moment to stop and be content with what we’ve accomplished.
It’s the moment to ask, “Lord, what’s next?”