The poison and the watermelon.
Six months ago, during several quiet times, I felt like God kept asking me the same thing over and over again. This is what he laid on my heart: “If you don’t ever get to publish a book, if the only thing you ever get out of writing is a closer relationship with me, is that enough?”
I’ll tell you what I told him more than a few times, no. No, I have to publish a book. If I don’t publish a book and see my name on a shelf somewhere, it’s all been a waste of time. It doesn’t count. I’m not a real writer.
It’s easy now to see the foolishness in that logic. Publishing a book isn’t any different from any other accomplishment. It’s fleeting. It’s a temporary success. It, like a medical degree, owning your own business or running a marathon, is not enough to sustain joy. I might be able to ride the wave of happiness from anyone of those accomplishments for months, maybe even years, but at some point, every way ends flat against the shore no matter how big it first swells. Whereas a closer relationship with God, the very creator of the universe is overflowing with promise and potential, love and adventure.
It took me a while to come around. I had to sacrifice the belief that publishing a book would make me the person I’ve always wanted to be. I still feel a quick surge of anger and jealousy flood my blood when I see ten new authors in the Christian bookstore advertisement that aren’t named me. But getting published is no longer the reason I write.
If it were and I got rejected from every publisher in the nation, I’d no longer have fuel to keep doing what I do. If it were and I got published, I’d suddenly find myself slapped in the face by the “what now” that often accomplishes long sought after success.
It would be a lose-lose, but I’m not worried because God took the publishing motivation away. And in it’s place, he dropped a rather curious one. The reason I write now is that the box labeled “poison” is actually full of watermelon.
The labels that were on top of the God box my entire life were things like, ”Judgmental, The Punisher, Killjoy, Sex Hater, Sir-Bores-A-Lot.” I thought he was uncreative because the pictures on the box were so boring. I thought he was cheesy because the design of the box was so poorly done. I thought that to open the box and drink him in was to ingest a poison that would forever ruin any fun I ever hoped to have.
And I was wrong.
Upon cracking upon just a tiny portion of the God box, I am amazed at what I’ve found. Acceptance. Humor. Mystery. A loving father that knows about my faults and has already forgotten them. Intelligence. Patience. Deep pools of creativity. The God box is full of my wildest dreams and I’ve only taken a peek.
That’s why I write, because maybe you grew up around people that told you the God box was full of poison. Maybe their treatment of you was poisonous and if Christians could hurt you like that, surely God would too. Maybe every box you ever saw told you that instead of freshness and creativity God was most pleased when people represented him with church-flavored cheesy campaigns stolen from corporate
I’m here to tell you I was wrong. So many labels on the God box were wrong, because there’s no poison inside. It’s watermelon. And if you hate watermelon then switch this metaphor out with ice cream. And if you’re lactose intolerant, then the box is full of Orbit gum, Mint Mojito flavor. And if you don’t like that then you’re just being difficult because it’s probably the best flavor of gum ever.