Ever feel like everything is in pieces? Like you have no idea if the loose ends will ever be tied up or if they will just keep on unraveling?
I’ve been fortunate to spectate my son rehearsing for the local musical production of Annie, and similarly to our disheveled lives, a show seemingly starts with chaos. Once the show is announced and the cast has been selected there is the first rehearsal—packed with potential, but heavy with an uneasy feeling that this couldn’t possibly come together. Scripts are passed out, a tape played, and soon the partial cast—the group for Act 1—sings hesitantly from their seats straining to find the melody.
Have you ever struggled to find your tune?
Even when we can’t find the notes, even when we can’t see it, God is at work, bringing the pieces together. Step by step a little more of the full picture is revealed, like a jigsaw puzzle being assembled piece by piece to reveal a beautiful landscape. But even as the bits convene, each one creates it’s own obstacles and seems to add a level of uncertainty.
In the production, students move from their seats to the stark stage. More actors appear seemingly out of thin air, interspersing, transforming sheets of paper printed with lines into a story. But just like our lives, there are bumps and hiccups as the actors adjust to the transitions. Dance steps add to the pizazz, but complicate where people stand on stage. Singing needs to be coordinated with the orchestra that has replaced the tape recording.
Wooden beams create the skeleton of a staircase where the stage was bare before. The smell of sawdust lingers heavy in the air, and it’s exciting to imagine the finished set, but also a bit questionable if there will be time to complete it—if it will all fit, if it will stand strong. A live dog coaxed with Milk Bones replaces the imaginary Sandy. Will the dog sit? Stay? Or scramble off the stage like it did tonight?
It’s not that different from our own discernment. One step forward. Two steps back. A turn around and a slide sideways. God keeps adding pieces for us, steps to our staircases, notes to our songs, but we’re not sure how it’s all going to come together, or if it ever will.
When we’re in the middle of it all, sometimes life looks like a wreck, feels off kilter. Some days we’re waiting for the email, the proposal, the acceptance letter, the check to clear, the next step to be visible and in the waiting we feel frantic, antsy, eager to just be doing the next thing. Life around us looks undone, like chaos, like it’s moving, but not necessarily forward and maybe even backwards.
But God is always at work. Always.
He is planning and shuffling and building things behind the scenes. He’s making introductions, connecting old friends, new friends and loose wires, so that when it’s time, that thing He’s planning will be spectacular.
Each musical rehearsal contains a new marvel, as if something has miraculously happened in the dark, empty theatre overnight. There are beds and phones and buckets and plates. Each prop needs to be in its place, used at the right time by the correct actor. Students in sweatshirts and Converse scramble to find their costumes, and then almost magically, are transformed into New Yorkers in the 1920’s. But Annie’s curly red wig is askew. Someone else is missing a scarf. The boy with a solo has a sore throat. The seam on a dress rips. How will this fly?
But then comes the night of the performance. And all of the bits and pieces and loose ends collaborate for one spectacular show. The girl who was hard to hear is crystal clear with her mic. The cumbersome scenery slides on and off stage flawlessly. Everyone remembers the lines they’ve been struggling to recall. And the vase that keeps falling down stands straight and tall.
The waiting can be unnerving if we focus on the unknown. But if we focus on the known it can be exhilarating.
God loves us. Eph 2:3-4
He will never forsake us. Heb 13:5-6
He has perfect plans for us. Jer 29:11
When we focus on these truths we can notice each new prop and how it rounds out our stories. We can appreciate every character God brings into our lives and what we can learn from them. We can appreciate this change of tempo and that breather we get when the scenes switch and the fresh outlook a costume change offers. Then, after a long season of rehearsing and retaking scenes, it’s time for the show, and we can savor what God had done, what He has put together for us.
Just like a school doesn’t put on one play then close the curtains for good, our life is never about one performance. Our days are packed with new seasons, new scripts, new costumes, and new stage directions—new jobs, new relationships, new schools, new homes, new stages of life. And although there will always be a bit of hesitancy when we see the bare theatre and the unfamiliar songs, there can always be excitement and expectancy that God is the ultimate stage manager, director, and producer working all things together for glorious outcomes.
As I clean the top left section of my white board, I am stopped mid-erase, in total awe of God’s plans, and how He orchestrates them.
About a year ago I started the search for a literary agent to represent me. I’d had an agent previously. We’d broken up, because we wanted different things. And as with any relationship that ends, I’d needed some time to sort through it. But last year I was prompted to look for a new agent.
All searches—for a job, a new house, a college, a spouse—are a process. These searches remind me of working my way through a corn maze. Have you been in one? You know where you’re starting. You know there is a finish. You’re just not sure how you’re going to get from A to B. The names and dates I’m erasing from my white board are a testimony to this process—of websites researched, proposals written, submissions sent, phone calls made. Are you searching for anything right now?
On my quest I took wrong turns when I looked around and saw endless rows of corn, where I felt like I was getting farther and farther away from the finish line, more and more lost in the maze. These were the days I chatted with agents who didn’t get me, who said they wanted to represent me, but they hadn’t even read my email to see what I wanted represented, who made suggestions that just didn’t make sense. I shook my head, discouraged, not sure what to do next. Luckily, I had friends and family who kept giving me new suggestions, kept encouraging me, kept praying for me, kept me on track when I would start to lose perspective. Their company along the journey made a world of difference. I mean, where’s the fun in tackling a corn maze by yourself?
There were days when I hit dead ends like getting to a wall of head-high corn stalks not sure if I would ever get out, where it felt like I’d come so far to get absolutely nowhere. These were the days I got rejected from agents whose work I respected, who I thought might be a great fit.
But there were also brilliant, beautiful moments. Just like when you’re in a corn maze and you spot a scarlet ladybug, when the sunshine warms your face, when a fuzzy caterpillar crosses your path, when you’re laughing so hard with your companions, or you’re floored by the intricacies of a sparkling spider web woven to perfection, and you forget all about solving the maze, when you just want to breathe in the moment. These were days when I was writing new material, and sensing God’s inspiration behind every word. These were days when I had speaking engagements and met the most amazing, awe-inspiring women. There were some of my favorite moments of the past year, which had nothing to do with writing or agents—baking cookies with my kids and eating spoonfuls of the dough, going for walks with my husband as the sun set in our neighborhood, enjoying the company and insights of a good friend or a good book.
When you walk through a corn maze, no matter what stage of it you’re in, the farmer has plowed a wide, smooth path to the end, to the finish line. It’s there. You just can’t see it yet. He even gives you a map to follow along your way. But there are times when the map seems confusing, when you try to solve it yourself, when you forget about the map in your hand altogether. Life’s mazes are the same. God has plowed a wide, smooth path to the finish line—to the right job, the right roommate, the right date, the right team, the right neighborhood. He even gives us a map to follow to get to the end. The Bible is packed with everything we need to make the right decisions, to stay strong and courageous, to understand that if you hit a dead end, you just need to turn around because God will provide a way out, that God will never leave you, that if you have a little faith, you can move mountains, or solve corn mazes. But some days we forget. Or tuck our maps in our pockets. Or try to solve it ourselves, just because we want to, even when we know better.
And just like walking through a corn maze, there is a thrill in finding the sign that reads FINISH in red letters at the end, but the journey is a thrill, it’s packed with discovery and hope and mystery and laughter. And with life’s corn mazes, you don’t have to wonder if you’ll ever reach the end, because you can have faith, that our perfect God has plans for you, plans to prosper you, plans for a future.
For me, the finish line of this particular corn maze of my life is that I’ve signed with Emily Sweeney of ESY Marketing Solutions. She is sharp, funny, and real. She gets me. She understands the industry. She has brilliant ideas. As I chat with Emily, I understand fully why none of the other agents worked out. I am in awe of the fact that God kept me from signing with any of them, because He knew all along that I needed to sign with her. Emily wasn’t even an agent when I began my search! She was still working at a major publisher. So when I thought it was taking forever, God was just making sure everything was in place. I see God’s fingerprints all over my journey.
As I stand here erasing the steps of me trying to solve this maze I am blown away by what He had in store all along, and I am reminded to hold tight to this moment. Because there will be more quests I go on in life. There will be a different search, with different questions, new sets of dead ends and wrong turns. But I can be certain, just like you can, that God has a perfect path laid out. All we have to do is patiently follow it one step, one day at a time. When we get mixed up, we need to go back to His map, ask Him for guidance, and He will lead us to life’s finish lines. And along the way, we can savor the journeys.
“We’re caught in a trap. I can’t walk out,” is how one of my favorite Elvis songs, “Suspicious Minds”, begins. And as much as I love that song, especially the remake by the Fine Young Cannibals, there’s nothing melodious or harmonic about feeling trapped.
Trapped—you know that feeling of being stuck, of having the door slammed in your face and not knowing where to turn?
My fourteen-year old son has a summer birthday, making him one of the older kids in his class and one of the younger kids on his soccer team. The rest of his club team started high school this fall and tried out for their high school teams. Meanwhile, Max was left standing alone. It happens in sports, so often that there’s a term for it – Trapped Eighth Grader. Everything settles itself out in the spring, when all of the players of Max’s team will be free from their high school commitments, and they’ll all play together. Next fall, Max can try out for his high school team. But in the meantime, for this fall, he was officially trapped.
Max’s team had been yanked out from under his feet. What were we going to do? So, Max and I began praying about the situation.
We’d heard rumors of a team of home-schooled boys, who scrimmaged against some of the smaller high schools, but Max wouldn’t have known any of the players, and they’d all been playing together for years. We discussed hiring a soccer trainer to fine tune Max’s skills and keep him active, but not only was it expensive, Max wanted to play games. There was also talk of his club joining trapped eighth graders from a large geographical area to practice and scrimmage, but nothing ever materialized.
Then one day this summer, Max joined me for my morning jaunt to Starbucks. He wore his club soccer t-shirt, and while I was at one end of the line ordering my coffee, the barista at the other end of the counter started chatting with Max. By the time I got over to where Max was, the barista, who I’ve never seen working at my Starbucks before or since, was inviting Max to join in a standing pick up game of soccer. The players ranged from college boys to professors to community members who’d played high school or college club soccer, and still loved the game. They met twice a week, with no fees, at the park five minutes from our house. We walked out whispering to one another. It looked like God had answered our prayers.
Max has been playing with these guys ever since. And loving it. The players are first rate. Max gets tons of touches on the balls, lots of opportunities to learn and grow and shoot and score, and gets a great workout, without any pressure to start or win. This is not something Max or I or his soccer coach could have orchestrated. None of us knew these guys played. If I had, I would have never guessed my eighth grader would have been welcome. But he is. The other guys are super friendly and accepting of my son. Max and I could have never strategized that he should wear his club shirt to get noticed by a Starbucks worker I’m thinking was a sub. But God knew. He always does. And once again, He orchestrated something so perfect and out of the realm of my consideration that I am blown away. It didn't happen over night. It didn't become clear to us the first time we prayed about it. The first avenue we tried and the second and the third also were dead end streets. But God always had this in mind.
It is in Christ Jesus that we find out who we are and what we are living for. (Ephesians 1:11 MSG)
You see, we’re never really trapped. Sometimes it sure looks like it. Sometimes we’re suffering from an ailment or depression or a loss. Some days we get a rejection or a bad score or a bad review. But with God there is never a dead end. Jesus is The Way. And when we trust in Him, He always reveals the beautiful plan He’d intended for us all along.
You don’t have to figure the way through or out or over the slammed door in your life. But you do need to turn it over to God, and watch the amazing ways He’ll make you flat enough to slide under the door, strong enough to bust through the door, or reveal a secret passageway out, you’d never seen before. With Jesus there is no trapped, just pauses in the beautiful journey He’s walking with you.
I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. (Jeremiah 29:11 MSG)
“You can do it!”
“That’s right, you’ve got this!”
“If you pull up your shoulders you’ll last longer.”
“Wow, you are doing so great!”
“Keep your chin up, it makes it easier.”
“If you can hang on for ten more seconds you’ll break your record.”
“You are so strong!”
This is what I heard as I walked past the climbing wall at the rec center the other day.
And this is what I saw.
An elementary-aged boy, hanging with two small, sweaty hands from rock holds, while his climbing team and coaches sat in a semi-circle on the floor around him, cheering him on.
This image has stuck with me for days.
I would love for people to shout these encouragements to me. All day. Every day. I mean, talk about inspiration. Really, what if we all did this for each other in life? Because there are days, times, trials, seasons of life that are downright tough, when we feel ourselves slipping, when we ache from trying, when we’re not sure if we can hang on for even a moment more. Currently, I have friends who are trying to sell their house, trying to get a job, battling depression, trying to get pregnant, discerning if they should marry their boyfriend or not, fighting cancer, and praying for their wayward child. And you, what are you trying to get through? How are you trying to hang on?
Because even when we have great days, successes, and promotions, and celebrations, there will always be a tough situation in our future, or one we’ve put off, or pushed aside, for now. And when it arises, we’ll be desperately trying to hang on with all our might.
What if there were people around us shouting, “You can do this!” “You’ve got this!” “You’re strong!”
What if we shouted this at each other, when we saw a friend or a stranger struggling? What if we reminded them that they have a God who loves them, who created them, who will never forsake them, who will be with them always, even to the end of the world?
You should have seen that kid’s smile when he came down from the wall after beating his record, after clearly hanging on longer than he imagined he could. He was beaming.
Is there anyone you know who’s just hanging on today? What can you do to cheer them on?
What are you waiting for?
Summer is fantastic! But August always brings a flurry of back to schoolness. This means lists of things to do to get ready and lists of uncertainties as you wait to see…. if you made the team? Who your roommates will be? What dorm you're in? For someone to call/text/email you back? If you got the scholarship? If you got the job to help you pay for school? Maybe you're just waiting for a parking place or to get to the front of line at Chipotle and finally place your order as your stomach grumbles. But you might be waiting to see If you’ll be asked to homecoming. If you’ll make call backs for the audition. Are you waiting to see if you got Dr. Palumbo for Biology? For the movie you’ve been itching to see to come out on DVD? If your locker will be anywhere near your bff’s or at least near your classes? Maybe you’re waiting for test results or x-rays back from a doctor or waiting to hear if the seller accepted your offer.
There’s big stuff we wait for and small stuff we wait for, but it seems we end up spending way too much of our lives waiting. So, what to do when we find ourselves in the dreaded Waiting Place? In Oh The Places You’ll Go, Dr. Seuss describes it as this:
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No….
We sit around and wait and worry about the out comes. But Dr. Seuss tells us, "That's not for you!" And so does Jesus.
Do not be anxious about tomorrow. Matthew 6:34
What if while we’re waiting, we make a pact, you and I? What if we make a pact to be productive during our waiting?
Waiting to see if you got the job? How about you spend some time on Linked In writing endorsements for others you’ve been encouraged by, Google and then read some articles about the job you’re seeking and learn more about the field. Waiting for your nails to dry, or to board the plane or for the person you’re picking up to come out of the building? Grab a great book you’ve been meaning to read. Keep it with you at all times, and when those boring pauses occur, immerse yourself in words and story. Who knows, you might learn something new. Waiting to see if you made it? How about working on your skills – dribbling, drawing, playing octaves, rehearsing to get better at your talent no matter what the reply is to your most recent try out, submission or audition.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Phil 4:6
Let’s promise each other we’ll pray about it, pray for peace, for God to have His almighty hand in the outcome. Let’s praise God for the hallway while we’re waiting for Him to open the next door.
I L-O-V-E this song by John Waller, “While I’m Waiting”.
Next, know that whatever you’re waiting for God already knows the answer, and He’s planned it for your good.
If He already knows, why do we have to wait? If He already knows then can’t we play first chair, get the job, always be healthy, on time and be surrounded by our best friends all of the time? I don’t know about that. Because I don’t know if moving (or any other change in your life, any outcome you’re waiting for) will introduce you to your new best friend or future husband, or teach you something to help you later on, or strengthen your sibling or something else grand all together. But God knows. And He’s got your back.
I have it all planned out--plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11
If He’s got it all planned out, there really is no reason to worry. So, how are you going to get out of the Waiting Place today?
On today's blog I feature up and coming young author, Devin Berglund. Devin calls herself a writer, dreamer, wanderer and all-time enjoyer of life. She loves crafting stories that change lives. Her short story, Hope For Another Day, releases on Halloween.
One autumn morning, I was walking to my college class. Leaves floated around the blue sky and rustled on the sidewalk. It was the perfect day. Once I got to class, I sat down next to my friend. Class hadn't started yet, but my cell phone vibrated in my pocket. I looked at the name - Dad.
"Are you sitting down." I looked around at my friends in class, then got up and walked into the hallway to sit at a bench. I remember the sunlight shining through the window. It was the perfect day, but not for this kind of conversation.
"Uh... Yeah? I am now. What's wrong?" A pause came from my dad's side. I remember turning through the book of all the faces I knew and loved dearly.
"Grandpa Dennis passed away, this morning."
I don't think I said anything other than breaking into tears. I couldn't stop crying.
That week was one of my toughest in my college career. My family went down to Crystal, North Dakota. I had to finish out the week of classes, before I could join them.
It's been six years, since my Grandpa went to be with the Lord. It was tough and it took a long time to heal for all of our family. And we still haven't completely gotten over the loss.
One of my favorite Bible verses that got me through many tough experiences was Jeremiah 29:11-14
When we go through troubles, God will pick us up again and set us on our feet again.
But after that is when the work begins. We have to strive to live good and happy lives filled with HOPE. In my Urban Fantasy short story, Hope For Another Day, I wrote about a character named Silvia. She is a young woman who lost her husband and also a young infant. In my writing, I want to share with the world that there is always something great to hope for. A beautiful sunset in every day.
After losing her husband to a car accident, Silvia yearns for the normal life she once had and the love she lost. One night, while walking through the forest, her life is turned upside down when she discovers a mysterious secret in the forest.
This is a twist on the fairytales we were told while we were young. It’s a story about fate, loss, and giving life a second chance.
Just as my Grandpa's life was cut so short, we can't take life or the days we are given for granted. We should push onward without worry and fear. We should push onward with hope in our hearts.
Ask any writer about their WIP and you’ll be sure to spark a conversation. Even if the author is protective of their WIP’s identity, they’ll at least comment about how far along they are with their WIP, what genre it is, if it has a home, etc.
WIP is writer speak for Work In Progress.
Writers are always writing. Even if we’re taking a hiatus from our next novel. We might be working on our blog, an article, a forward or endorsement for a friend’s book. We could be in a rewrite stage or awaiting edits or using our writing to help a family member with their website or our church with a newsletter. Or maybe we’re in the mulling over stage--the plotting, researching or character development stage. But I guarantee, writers always have a WIP.
I was recently chatting with a writer friend (*ahem* Stephanie) about getting edits back from our editors, and no matter how much we write and how many times we go over our own work, editors find so many ways (major and minor) to improve our writing.
I am a Work In Progress.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Eph 2:10 ESV
God had this idea for me from the get go. He created me and predestined specific works I would do – how cool is that? But my story constantly changes. I need to listen to my editor (God) about some of my choices, and how to learn from my mistakes. My patience needs a rewrite. Paragraphs and even chapters of my life should go in the “trash” at the bottom of my screen with a satisfying “crumpling”. I am constantly searching for a better way to write myself, a more precise word, a truer reaction. As Robert Fulguhm (author of Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten) says, "I could do better. The president and the pope and all the rest of humanity. We could do better."
The awesome thing about me as a WIP, is I know my ending. Because I believe in Jesus Christ and His unending love for me, I know my ending is actually just my beginning.
But how I get there, what I say along the way, how I interact with those around me, the decisions I make, what I do with the talents and troubles and experiences that come my way… well, that’s a story I’ll always be refining.
Sometimes I think I’m a piece of work. Sometimes I think I’m progressing. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever work things out. But I always know that I am progressing toward the last beautiful chapter. And that the Author of my story is my Savior. He’ll never ever delete me. I’m not any old WIP. I’m His.
My current writing WIP is the third book in the Status Updates series. What are you working on?
Long before Katniss and Peeta, the question has lingered--can boys and girls be friends without romance?
When was the first time you asked yourself if men and women can be just friends?
Today's guest post by author, Renee Fisher, dives into this question as she talks about kissing, dating, break ups and her latest book, Loves Me Not. She first asked herself that question when she was in the seventh grade. She writes:
My friends and I were wasting time in gym talking about more important matters: boys. After listening to my friends, I was horrified to find out that (shocker)--I was the only girl who hadn’t kissed a boy yet. I instantly felt this pressure I’ve never felt before. Maybe it was just me, or the way I was raised--but I wasn’t quite comfortable with having boy friends. And I certainly wasn’t going to kiss a boy who wasn’t my friend.
I wonder if I’m the only one who’s ever felt that way.
In a hook-up-or-go-home culture, it’s tough for me to justify skipping the “let’s be friends” part while jumping into a serious relationship. That probably also explains why I was single for so long.
I tell people often that I was single for over a decade until I found my prince. Personally, he was worth the wait--but how do you find friendships before marriage? Can men and women be just friends? I recently wrote an eBook entitled Loves Me Not to help answer these questions.
Questions like these are very important to ask before marriage, BUT before I attempt to answer these questions, I want to talk about friendship—more importantly, what godly friendship— looks like. First you need to know what you're looking for in a friend. Later you can evolve the right friendship into the right romance.
+ Friends don’t gossip about each other (Proverbs 26:20).
+ Friends are gentle instead of harsh or angry at each other (Proverbs 15:1).
+ Friends words bring healing (Proverbs 12:18).
+ Friends should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19).
+ Friends don’t destroy each other (Proverbs 11:9).
+ Friends are understanding and even-tempered with each other (Proverbs 17:2).
+ Friends pray for each other (Job 42:10, James 5:16).
+ Friends spur each other forward (Hebrews 10:24).
+ Friends encourage each other daily (see Hebrews 3:13).
+ Friends share in each other’s troubles and joys (see Romans 12:15).
+ Friends are reliable and stick closer than a brother or sister (Proverbs 18:24).
After reading the list, I hope you know and understand more about what a true friend does and doesn’t look like (whether they're a boy or a girl).
Nowhere on this list does it say you can or can’t be friends with the opposite sex.
Nowhere does the Bible say, “Thou shall or shall not be friends with the opposite sex.” Praise God, right? But it does say to choose your friends “carefully” (Proverbs 12:26, NIV).
Maybe after reading the list you’ll know more about your motives and the intentions of your friends. I also hope to instill a deeper sense of appreciation for what it takes to be friends first before jumping into a relationship. What better way to discern if a relationship will be a good fit if you know what good of a friend he or she is?
I believe it is possible for guys and girls to be just friends.
The how is between you, God, and the other person.
What’s the verdict? Do you believe men and women can be friends? If you’d like to read more from Loves Me Not, I’d love to share more with you. If you or anyone you know is currently experiencing a broken relationship or a breakup--I encourage you to pick up the eBook for only $2.99.
Renee Fisher, the Devotional Diva®, is the spirited speaker and author of Faithbook of Jesus, Not Another Dating Book, Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me, and Loves Me Not. A graduate of Biola University, Renee’s mission in life is to “spur others forward” (Hebrews 10:24) using the lessons learned from her own trials to encourage others in their walk with God. She and her husband, Marc, live in California with their dog, Star. Learn more about Renee at www.devotionaldiva.com.
“I can begin again.” New Year’s Day by U2
I spent New Year’s Day 2013 soaking in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
Barely visible amidst Elvis’ outlandish purple Cadillac with “EP” blazed on every seat cushion, tire and door (no lie), John Lennon’s neon green silk Sergeant Pepper’s uniform and Katy Perry’s memorable peppermint dress were my two favorite artifacts in the multi level, glass pyramid of a museum (a copy of the Louvre in Paris).
My favorites weren’t bright or shiny or glitzy or even psychedelic, like all the items I believe rock stars own and save and cherish. They were small and flat and plain. They were rejection letters.
As a writer I get my share of rejection letters. You might think looking at others’ rejections would be torture. But, actually it’s the opposite. You see, these weren’t random rejection letters written to bands you’ve never heard of like Carl and the Crazies or the Keyboard Lizards, these were rejection letters written to U2.
In 1979 RSO sent a letter to P. Hewson, Bono’s real name, stating the demo tape he mailed “titled U2 is not suitable for us at present". The letter was written on Bono’s 19th birthday. I hope he got a decent cake.
Around the same time Arista Records sent U2 a form rejection letter, the kind they sent to hundreds of bands with just a preprinted signature, and without details of why the band was being turned down.
But those rejections did not make U2 quit. It gave them fodder to begin again. To make another tape, to send it to another label, to try again.
One year later, Island Records signed U2. They went on to become one of the biggest selling bands in the world. Over 7.2 million fans attended U2’s 360 Tour, more than any other fans attending any other tour - ever. U2 has won more Grammy awards than any other band, ever. 22.
But what if Bono and the boys had listened to RSO or Arista? What if they took those rejections as signs they didn’t have what it takes? That they weren’t good enough? That their sound wouldn’t resonate? That they should give up?
What hill are you climbing today? Who’s told you “no” recently? What roadblocks are you encountering?
What if instead of listening to the negativity, you tried one more time – took the SAT or LSAT one more time to improve your score, auditioned for one more play, ran one more race, applied to one more internship or job, sent one more song to a record label?
Hills are rarely easy to climb. Sometimes they reveal themselves as careening mountains.
But the view from the top of the mountain is glorious.
I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He lift me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay
I will sing, sing a new song
Psalm 40 by King David and revamped by U2 in their song “40”
What new song can you sing today? Where can you begin again?
75% of the United States wears either contacts or glasses, including me.
Most of us struggle to see the world we live in more clearly, sharper, brighter.
I had an eye check up last week, you know the kind where they dilate your pupils with drops and everything is blurry for hours and hours afterwards? It was that kind.
Due to the dilation drops, I spent the rest of the day wishing I could see more clearly. I wished my computer screen wasn’t so bright, so I could write the chapter I’d been plotting for my new manuscript. I wished the words in the book I’m reading weren’t so blurry. I wished I could respond to an email, flip through my latest copy of In Style or even get some early Christmas shopping done online. But nothing smaller than a chocolate chip cookie would come into focus.
How often do I wish I could see God’s plan for me, His vision of me, the way He sees the world -- better, sharper, brighter, more in focus? But sometimes His ways are too bright for me to stare into. Sometimes His plans for me are too far away for me to see clearly. Sometimes, I let the lens of the world distort and twist God’s vision, His plans. So, I beg for clarity like the blind men outside of Jericho:
“Master, we want our eyes opened. We want to see!” Deeply moved, Jesus touched their eyes. They had their sight back that very instant, and joined the procession. Matthew 20: 33-34
When I pray, when I actually lean on Him to see how things truly are, I get my sight back. Not always the way I want things to look, like no writing after my eye doctor appointment, even though that’s what I’d planned. But always something amazing, like the wonderful phone call I had with my mom instead.
Lord, I really need to stop right now
Stop now and focus on you
Even with the chaos all around
Stop now and focus on you.
“Focus” by Holly Starr
When friends, magazines, TV shows, work, and other worldly voices try to fill our eyes with drops of advice and expectations and pressures to dilute His view of us, all we have to do is call out, “I want to see!” and everything comes back into focus.
How has God helped you see something more clearly this week?
Laura L. Smith