"Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:7 (NIV)
"New York City!" a bunch of Texas cowboys retort in a TV ad when another cowpoke reveals he bought his salsa in the eastern state.
New York editors might not make or even eat Texas salsa, but when one confirmed attendance at a Texas writer’s conference, a collective burst of excitement rippled through the eager writers. Crème de la crème. Top dog. Top banana. The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker. Texas writers hoped to rope an interview slot when the honored guest would arrive at the conference. Even with a few editor/agent interviews under my belt buckle, never had I met one from New York, New York.
Months later, I found that my fiction submission made the finals round in the general conference hosting the famed editor. On conference day, I would receive a coveted timeslot for an interview. While I fretted over the upcoming consultation, God reminded me that David penned, "Do not fret – it leads only to evil" (37:8).
The king wrote this psalm later in life after he’d lived through kicks and kindnesses: bloody battles, traitors in his household, and tragedies, but also adoring subjects, feasting, and good promises from God. His faith and his experiences accredit his words and he had learned that fretting leads to evil.
The wise writer David identified a common problem among writers today—fretfulness. Excellent communicator that he was, he didn't only lecture against fretting. Instead, he identified a problem and gave solutions, too. “Delight yourself in the LORD . . . commit your way to the LORD . .. . Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” (4-7).
David's "be still" meant to keep silent, cease striving, let your arms hang limp. However, he’s not describing a do-nothing life. Rather, he describes a mindset. Don’t wrestle, wrangle, or wring your hands or mind. Tell God about your desire to write for him, and then wait and trust him to lead to writing opportunities.
I'm an experienced "waiter." I’ve paid my dues—rejection slips, critique groups with red pens, and many rewrites. Trusting God's timing for works in progress remains challenging, but very doable if we remember that God looks over our shoulders, holds our hands, and walks ahead of us. He remains our constant companion.
My interview with the New York editor went well. No, I didn't receive a contract, but to God's credit, calm filled my spirit. When the editor and I first shook hands, my focus shifted to her possible needs. Although young and fit, she seemed a bit travel weary after her flight to Texas. I asked the first few questions—about her trip, accommodations—and I offered to bring her a bottle of water. Jesus never doted on self, and on that day, he led me to imitate his approach to others. God allowed me to step away from self and into his plan for treating an esteemed New York editor to some Jesus-plus-Texas hospitality.
In Psalm 37, David affirmed that God gives words to those who esteem him, "The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just" (30).
Through his words, the wizened David speaks to me about interviews with top-notch New York agents, writing a weekly newspaper column, or a note to a mourning friend. From David’s lead, I wrote a Cathy-version of Psalm 37:4-7. See if it fits you, too: "Don't drop your pen, just drop your arms. Stop flailing, twisting your hands. Don't fuss. Plant your writing desires in God’s heart and wait—silent and serene before him.” And when God responds and gives you wisdom—write words to prompt others to better believing and better living.
I love that God said his disciples would testify before kings, and sometimes God arranges for our Christian fiction or non-fiction to land on the desk of a New York editor.
Author Cathy Messecar speaks at local and national women’s retreats, women’s Bible classes, garden and rotary clubs, MOPS, retired teachers, and writing guilds. She has written four published books and wrote eleven years for Houston Community Newspapers, over 600 columns.
She lives with her husband, David, in Montgomery, TX. Her family includes a son and daughter, their spouses and five grandchildren. She enjoys Saturday night dates with her husband, poking around at antique fairs, serving hot tea, and of course, writing and speaking.
Check out her author page at Amazon.