It never occurred to me that people don’t know how books get from an author’s mind to the bookstore. It sounds simple. Step one: Write a book. Step two: Get it published. Step three: Begin the sequel. If only it were that easy.
Even the writing is an exercise in patience and dedication. It starts with an idea. Maybe it’s a scripture, a place that draws a story out of you, or a situation that makes you wonder what comes next. Whatever the inspiration, it is the beginning of the journey. Some authors go from this point into a highly organized method of mapping out characters, settings, and plot lines before they begin typing the story. That’s not how I work. I don’t plan. I just sit down and write.
Whichever method is employed, there’s a lot of work in writing a book. Authors have to move the plot along realistically, keep characters acting and reacting within their personalities and motivations, and create believable dialog and situations for the characters. Sometimes, an author gets stuck. The struggle to find the best words and actions to move the story in the desired direction can be frustrating. With perseverance, hopefully, the author finishes the story. Time to move on and start the sequel, right? Wrong.
Now remembering research lessons from school becomes important. Grabbing a computer with a good internet connection and the newest copy of the most suitable market guide, the author spends hours researching publishing houses and agents. When the most promising ones are found, the author researches the specifications for sending their manuscript to each one. Some want a query letter giving a brief synopsis of the story. Some want sample chapters. A few want the complete manuscript. They all want what they want, delivered in very particular ways down to length of submission and font size.
Once a publisher is found (either directly or after securing an agent), there are contracts to read and sign, rounds of edits to complete, the cover design process, and marketing plans to develop for the finished book. Even these steps contain multiple parts. It’s a long process from the idea to the shelf at your local book store. But the finished project makes the journey worth it.
That’s how it is with a lot of things in life. It’s a journey to get to the desired outcome. It’s good to remember this when we consider our spiritual lives. It seems a lot of people believe once they’ve accepted Jesus’ death and resurrection as the payment for their debt of sin, that’s all there is to it. Their sins are forgiven, and they can go about life as usual. But that isn’t what God calls us to.
Yes, God wants our relationship with Him restored through Jesus’ sacrifice. He loves us enough to offer us a way out of an eternity separated from Him. But the key word is relationship. God doesn’t just call us to be saved. He calls us into relationship. He calls us to be and make disciples. He calls us to live the way Jesus lived and to serve others as we “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). He calls us to love God wholeheartedly and love our neighbors as ourselves. He calls us to be different, to be sanctified.
Sanctification is being set apart for a particular use or purpose, to be made holy. It is something God has done and is doing in those who follow Him. It is what He wants for us, and like many life-changing things, sanctification is a process that should continue throughout our lives.
When we accept God’s gift of salvation, it’s immediate. Scripture says we are a new creation and the old has passed away, but we don’t often live that way. Sometimes, we don’t even know what it means to be a new creation. The Spirit lives in us, guiding and empowering us, and living like Jesus is impossible without the Spirit’s help. As we spend time in God’s word, the Spirit teaches us more about what it means to be set apart for God’s purpose. Even with the Spirit strengthening us, the pull of our old ways of living can be strong. It takes time, effort, and God to help get us to the desired outcome. The process of learning to be who God made us to be is not easy, but don’t give up. The finished product makes it worth it.
By the Book: When did you last take the time to ask God what He wants for your life? Read Philippians 2, 2 Corinthians 5:14-21, and Matthew 22:34-40. Ask God to show you how to become the person He made you to be.