by Sharon Fischer
I glanced over at my computer, then quickly looked away in aversion and despair. Every time my eyes fell on it I was reminded of my failure to sell any of the stories God had led me to write. Over the years He had given me a clear direction to do so. But I had not done any Christian writing for a long time – a troubled marriage and some deep personal struggles had gotten in the way. In fact, it had been 25 years since I had sold a story.
For years, though, I had been writing freelance feature articles for newspapers. I was still able to hand carry or mail my articles to the papers I wrote for, so it wasn’t necessary for me to learn any new computer skills. So I didn’t. I never even learned to cut and paste! And now this lack was giving me great angst. This ole’ girl was now retired and had not kept up with the times.
“God, I will continue writing the true stories You put in my heart,” I prayed. “But I’m thinking seriously of giving up on selling them. I just can’t take this frustration and defeat any more.” So, with that, I gave up. It was an immense relief, but there was no happiness in it.
A few months earlier I had met Rick, who was filling in for my pastor while he and his family were on a sabbatical. Rick and I immediately found we had something in common: We were both Christian writers. I shared with him my deep frustrations with the computer. The only computer- savvy person I had help from was my brother Jay, and he had moved away to the next town four years before.
“You need to join the Oregon Christian Writers,” Rick stated. “It’s been invaluable for me in my writing.” Rick was also retired and had just published his first fictional book. He shared he was about to start writing a sequel. “I’ll think about it,” I said. But I knew I wouldn’t; I wasn’t much of a joiner and tended to do things on my own. Besides, how could it help me with my computer troubles?
But he was insistent. He was quite a salesman for the OCW (now CCW/Cascade Christian Writers), expounding on the benefits: writing seminars held for hopeful writers, mention of books and magazines seeking stories, and having one’s name in the CCW online newsletter when one gets published, to name a few.
A month later Rick asked me if I had joined CCW yet. “No,” I replied meekly. “I’m still thinking about it.” He again gave his forceful spiel of the importance of joining. No wonder he was such an effective preacher! Shortly after that encounter I reluctantly signed up. It was easier to join than to face him again– he and his wife would be at my church for three months!
A few weeks after I made my painful decision to stop trying to sell my stories, I checked my emails. There was a message from a Christian magazine I had sent a short story to a year and a half ago about a boy in my Sunday School class. They wanted to buy it! I was shocked and elated.
About a week later an item in that month’s CCW newsletter caught my eye. Helen Heavirland, also a member of CCW, was looking for heartwarming Christmas stories for a Christmas anthology she was compiling. I’ve got a story that’s just what she’s looking for, I thought. It was about my experiences as an angel in my church’s Christmas pageant.
With renewed zeal I pulled up the story; I turned to my brother for help in editing and sending it off. He’s retired, too, and didn’t mind driving over and helping me with my computer troubles, especially since I was giving him a home-cooked meal. My strength is cooking, his is computers. I also now had my son Gene to turn to for help. He and his wife had recently moved from Texas to the next town over, and computer work was his livelihood.
What have I got to lose? I thought as I hit “send.” Imagine my surprise the next day when Helen emailed me, saying she loved the story. She asked permission to do some minor editing on it, so I knew she was serious. It was eventually published, to my great joy.
I saw clearly that God had taken pity on this dejected author and started opening doors for me. He had heard my cries while standing in front of my despised computer. Fortunately, I finally recognized the voice of His Spirit telling me what to do to get back on the path He had laid out for me years ago.
I was hiding my light, God’s light, under a bushel when I chose to walk away from getting my stories out to my fellow man. What good is that, keeping the wonderful works of God to myself (Mat 5:15)? For the first time I realized that when I moved to Eagle Point six years ago God had closed the door to my selling secular articles to newspapers. That’s why I got a bad reception from the local newspaper’s features editor. God’s plan for me was to write and sell Christian stories.
There is one ministry I have been active in since shortly before my retirement. God has been putting poems in my heart and I have been writing them and carrying them everywhere in my purse. I share them with a hurting, hungry world, both the saved and the unsaved. He has given me boldness out of my love for my fellow man and the conviction that it’s His good and perfect will for me.
I shared one poem with Rick, and he said, “You need to enter this in the Cascade Writing Contest.” Knowing God had used him to steer me right, I entered “Fisherman’s Rest” in the unpublished poetry division.
As unlikely as it seemed that I would win or even be a finalist, a Voice whispered to me that something was astir. Sure enough, my poem was chosen as a finalist. No, I didn’t win. But no matter – that’s not why I write poems. I firmly believe God wanted me to have the joy and encouragement of being a finalist–and a greater audience for the poem, which glorifies Him and Jesus.His Spirit has been unmistakable in convicting me of my sin of “going it alone.” It brings to mind this wisdom from King Solomon:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.”
( Ecc 4:9-10)
Recently I was struck by the importance of something Pastor Dick Bull said: “As the days get darker, let your light shine brighter.” God wants me to put the light of His Word on a lampstand so that all who are in the room may receive it (Mat 5:15). My computer inadequacies and my tendency to not seek help from others are no obstacle to God; He accomplishes His purposes in me when I daily seek His direction in prayer and studying His powerful Word.