No one wants to fail, and I am no exception. It’s easier to not try something than to take a chance and risk falling on your face and making a fool of yourself. For some people, this fear can be paralyzing; it holds them back from becoming all they can be. Others take the “What’s the worst that can happen” attitude and try almost anything.
When I was in school, I preferred concrete assignments. I was happy to solve math problems, write book reports, and memorize dates of historic events. The assignments I hated were the vague ones requiring creativity. I can still remember the dread I felt in second grade when my teacher would hand out large sheets of paper with room for a picture and a story. “Draw a picture and write a story” would be her only instructions. Most of my classmates were thrilled with the assignment, which she made about once a week. I hated it; I would be paralyzed with fear that I wouldn’t come up with a good topic or that my picture would not look like what I intended it to be. Eventually, I would draw the simplest figure I could and write a few sentences.
So, it’s ironic that God has given me an assignment to write novels that point readers to Him. I’ve always been comfortable using the analytical side of my brain, but I feel totally out of my element when it comes to being creative. I resisted God for a while before stepping out in faith and beginning to write. Every morning I had devotions and prayed for God to give me the words He wanted me to write that day. The writing went surprisingly smoothly. No one knew that I was writing, however. Eventually, I told my husband I was writing a novel. I expected skepticism. I received encouragement and support.
The first draft of the novel was completed before I shared with anyone else that I had written it. Telling my family and friends that I had written a novel and asking them for their honest feedback was very difficult. Eventually, I had to ask myself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Maybe they wouldn’t like it, but they would reject me or stop loving me. Fortunately, their response was overwhelmingly positive. I made the changes they suggested and I was ready to begin the search for a publisher. In a relatively short period of time, I had secured a contract for the novel, Restorations, to be published.
I did not fail in my writing endeavor, but failure was certainly a distinct possibility when I began. Knowing that God had placed the desire to write in my heart alleviated my fears but did not dispel them altogether. And although my book has been published, it has not sold many copies. I have to keep my eyes on God and recognize that He has a plan for this book and the others in the series that are in progress.
This morning I was reading a back copy of The Pentecostal Evangel. The issue was devoted to second chances. Several articles shared that many of the patriarchs of the Bible failed God, yet He forgave them and continued to use them to accomplish His will. Then I read a devotion from Eugene Peterson’s book, God’s Message for Each Day. The devotion was entitled “Freedom to Fail.” Peterson wrote, “Fear of failure inhibits freedom; the freedom to fail encourages it. The life of faith encourages the risk taking that frequently results in failure, for it encourages human venture into crisis and the unknown.”
I wondered if God is preparing me for another step of faith into a new venture. Is He preparing me to try something new that has the possibility of failure? One part of me cringes and wants to shy away from trying something that might lead to failure. Another part of me recognizes that God is faithful and that tremendous peace and joy are the rewards of stepping out in faith and succeeding. I don’t know what God has in store for me next, but I believe I will step out in faith and follow His lead.
Has God put a dream in your heart that you’ve been afraid to try? I pray that you will have the faith to let God fulfill His dreams for you.