Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Writing with an Open Hand

In 1991, I completed writing the biography of Larry and Shirley Rascher, missionaries to Irian Jaya (Incessant Drumbeat: Tragedy and Triumph in Irian Jaya). I have never felt more strongly that the Lord wanted me to do something than to write that book.

I knew I was supposed to write the book, so I figured publication was up to the Lord. I would be faithful in submitting it to publishers and see what He had in mind. But frankly, I felt so strongly that it was His project and not mine that I wasn’t discouraged by the rejections. One after another, Christian publishers declined, replying “no one buys missionary biographies.”

One day Shirley Rascher suggested that I submit it to Christian Literature Crusade, a small Christian publisher with a book ministry around the world. I called their office to learn the name of the editor to whom I should address it, so that it wouldn’t languish in the wrong pile. The receptionist said that their senior editor had recently retired, and gave me the name of an interim one.

I sent it to him and he quickly replied, accepting the manuscript for publication, saying that he and his wife were missionaries in Indonesia when the Raschers were there, and “were touched by their story, as were people around the world.” So you see, for this slice of time a man was in the publisher’s receiving chair who had great respect for the Raschers and their story.

Not only was the Lord involved in securing a publisher, He also oversaw the timing of publication. When I received the book’s galleys to proof – a proof for which the book is formatted in pages, so it looks like a book – Larry Rascher was dying of cancer. When we began the process, he was hearty and well. I took the galleys to his home, where the Rascher children had gathered from around the world, and showed it to him. It was to be his legacy. Little did we know at the outset.

I cannot claim that every book I’ve written has had God’s handprints on it so certainly. But I have learned that God cares about the gift He’s given us to write, and He wants us to use the gift. The “good” that comes from any one project may simply be to hone our craft so that another project, a project of His particular blessing, will be the best that it can be.

So write. Journals, columns, manuals, essays, articles, books. Be available and obedient. Write, keeping your projects in your hands that are open, palms up. Long ago I listened to a tape on writing where the speaker said that unfortunately too often among Christians the writers aren’t livers, and the livers aren’t writers. Sometimes you will be in a season of life where you’re living so fully that writing isn’t possible. That’s good! Live. Write. Live. Write.

[Editor's note: I had the rare treat of stepping away from my computer and actually meeting Mary Beth for coffee last week. I love that! She is so kind and generous with her writing expertise, and like a true journalist and writer, very curious in nature and eager to know my story too. Mary Beth is currently in the midst of writing a novel and launching her personal historian business. In fact, she is headed to a Personal Historians Conference in Las Vegas in October...for all of you interested in that, here's the link to the Association of Personal Historians website and conference. Thank you, Mary Beth, for inspiring us to write. ~Cindy Blomquist, WOTH Editor]

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