Don't Be An Ishmael!
STACY LEE FLURY is part of our Good News Team and author of Turning the Tide o Emotional Turbulence: Devotions for Parents with Teens in Crisis--published after a decade of work and waiting--and lessons learned. Like how to avoid "Ishmael Moments." Learn Stacy's story HERE!
My brain was fried at the latest writers conference I’d attended. From nine in the morning to eight at night, in class after class, I walked, listened, and took notes. Next day, repeat--my feet shod in the shoes of weariness and exhaustion. I'd spent four years writing and working to get my book published. All I wanted was to push that baby out! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! I had crossed all my t’s and dotted my i’s. Surely, I was ready . . .
During my interview appointments with other authors, editors, and publishers, I heard the same advice: more work to do. This was not the response I had hoped for. My heart dragged right behind my feet. Though thankful to have learned so much, the thoughts of starting over frightened me.
With my mind overwhelmed and my head hung low, I wondered if I would ever see my book published when I ran into Karen Whiting in the hallway. If there was one person to glean wisdom and advice from, she was that go-to person. Karen had written over 20 award-winning published books, hundreds of magazine articles, and devotions for more than 60 publications, and had appeared on radio and television shows. I had never heard of Karen prior to the conference, but after meeting her, would never forget her name again.
As we traveled the winding path along the college campus to the cafeteria, Karen asked me about the progress of my book.
I answered honestly. “Well, I guess in my rush to get it done, the work shows that I’m not really prepared or finished yet. In fact, it’s clear I took a wrong turn in my final written draft.
Karen stopped, looked at me, and said these four memorable words, “Don’t be an Ismael.”
She went on to share about the Bible story of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 15 - 17. Though in their eighties, God had promised them that they would be the father and mother of many nations. As we know, Sarah became impatient and laughed off the idea that she could ever conceive a child. After all, she was no spring chicken far beyond the window of childbearing. Ten years had passed since the promise and they remained childless. In Biblical times, children were a show of God’s favor, especially if you had a son. However, Sarah questioned if she would ever be blessed by God. Would she miss out on so great an honor—even though God promised?
With no child in her arms to hold, Sarah lost patience and decided to help things along to find a new way to be the mother of nations. She refused to be childless for another day. In her impatience, she devised a plan which produced a son named Ishmael—birthed from her maid--not according to the initial promise God had given. In fact, much heartache came into Sarah’s life because of her impatience and poor judgment.
We can certainly sympathize with Sarah's situation and learn a valuable lesson, too. Did she ask God about her big idea? Did she think God would be okay with her plan?
Acting out of impatience when discouraged in our circumstances can have many unpleasant or dire consequences. How many of us have made bad choices because of our impatience? How many of us regret our decisions made in haste? Let’s apply this to the call to write and consider these things:
Has your writing suffered from these Ishmael moments? I know my writing has. I wanted my book to be published so badly that I was willing to go off track to what God had called me to write.
When we submit our call to write and our written words to God, He will direct and redirect until the end is in His plan. Then we will have something we can be proud of and worthy of our Lord. This may require us to be patient a little longer. None of us relish the sacrifice it often is to act in patience but we don’t want to produce an Ishmael book either.
Keep your focus on God to lead your words, your theme, and your story. God promises that the ending will be more than you could ever dream of. Just trust in His timing and leading.
Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.
Hebrews 10:36 NLT
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