Thursday, January 18, 2007

Life Lesson #2 - Patient Endurance

I don’t know about you, but I’ve become so used to instant gratification that it’s become almost a given. Want hot water? Pop a mugful into the microwave and nuke it. No need to fill a teakettle and wait. Need cash quickly? Drop into your local drugstore and pop your ATM card into a machine. No need to drive to the bank. Need information on a topic? Pull up a search engine such as Google and type a keyword. No need to drive to the library and pour over reference materials.

Want to sell your novel? Pull up a publisher’s website and insert your manuscript into a blank field. A minute later a contract arrives in your email. NOT!

Back in December, I came to a verse in Hebrews that jumped out at me like a Jack-In-The-Box. The New Living Translation of Hebrews 10: 35-36 goes like this:

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! 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.

At the time, a friend was going through an extremely rough recovery from surgery for a detached retina where he had to lay still on his stomach for weeks. The verse seemed the perfect encouragement for him. I pray that it was. As so often happens, what I first saw as something useful for someone else has turned out to be even more useful for me.

What works for wanting a quick bag of popcorn doesn’t work for book publication. And, for good reason. I mentioned the other day how I found an old manuscript I’d written. One I thought was well written when it wasn’t. Since the day I submitted that ill-fated chapter to a contest I didn’t win, I’ve endured and grown in my craft.

Have I endured my writing journey with patience? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. When I’ve exercised patience I’ve spent time reading books on writing such as “Self Editing for Fiction Writers” by Renni Browne and Dave King. That book is a must-have for any writer. Another essential is “Stein on Writing,” by Sol Stein. These are books that can be read and used over and over again. Another book I recently began, but haven’t yet finished is “Writing for the Soul” by Jerry B. Jenkins. His name has become a household word since the Left Behind series took over all the best seller lists.

When I’ve lacked patience, I’ve tended to want to jump to the chase and send out the manuscript before it's ready, have hissy-fits over hard crits, and question if I'm really supposed to be doing this.

I think the photo illustrates the principle so well. I have to wonder what these weathered hands have touched and done over the years. Probably powdered a baby's bottom back when they were more soft, stirred a spoon in many a meal for her family, and clasped countless times in prayer. Perhaps today, she is patiently enduring as she waits for word from a grown child who is too busy to remember to call her, or while she waits for a visitor to come to her door at the nursing home. What is key is that as she patiently endures in her waiting, she's doing so supported by God's Word. That is where the ability to patiently endure gets its strenth.

As I patiently endure and grow in my writing skills, God is building in me the fruit of patience. I'm not ready to toss out my microwave, but I can sure apply the principle of patience in other ways, most especially in my writing journey.


Susan Kelly Skitt said...

I hear you sister writer! Patience. God's been teaching me a lot about the value of patience and I still have much to learn.

Patience puts a new spin on the word "child training"! I've been contemplating that thought while raising two sons, learning the craft, and seeking God's face!

Thanks for sharing!

Susan Kelly Skitt

Catherine said...

This is a beautiful posting about these old hands on the bible. Really makes you wonder what her life was like and how much her life was blessed by God as well as what trials she endured in her life. Patient endurance...this a perfect picture of it in action.