by Dr. Richard Mabry
God made a promise to an old and childless Abraham that someday he would be the father of many nations. Fourteen years after that, Isaac was born to Abraham and his wife, Sarah. Did you ever wonder what happened during the prolonged period of waiting the patriarch endured? Did Abraham worry because he was getting older by the day without the son God promised? Did he agonize, wondering if perhaps God had forgotten His covenant? Did he consider trying other gods, hoping they’d do better a better job for him? We may not know what Abraham did during this period, but whatever it was, it’s evident he never lost faith in God.
What would a writer do if subjected to such a prolonged silence? Would the unpublished writer keep trying despite rejection after rejection? Would the previously published writer persevere when there were no more contracts? We’ve all felt it-the urge to throw up our hands and quit. Should we do it, or, like Abraham, keep the faith?
Like other writers, I have endured some of those silent periods, and I have to confess that during those times I worried…a lot. I wrote for four years before finally getting my first contract. I was ready to give up many times before then, and once I actually quit, although God had other plans. After that contract, though, I thought things would go more smoothly. Wrong. Despite four published novels, I endured a silent period again, waiting for a publisher to want my work. When there were no phone calls, no email messages, I wondered if God had forgotten me. Perhaps the call to writing I imagined feeling wasn’t real.
Finally, when I received another contract, because of publishing schedules I learned there was to be a hiatus of a year and a half between the publication of my last book and the appearance of the next one. Although I worried that no one would remember me after such a prolonged absence, the void period turned out to be just what I needed. During that time when I wasn’t writing under deadline, I was able to serve as an officer in ACFW. I could be there for my family at a time when my contribution was most needed. I was free to study and read. I had time to pray and seek God’s direction. In other words, the timing of that silent period was perfect. It was God’s timing.
When you encounter periods of silence like these, remember that they may represent an example of God’s perfect timing. If you are overcome with worry during such a period, remember Abraham. He never lost faith. We shouldn’t either.
Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician, past Vice-President of American Christian Fiction Writers, and the author of four published novels of medical suspense. His books have been finalists in competitions including ACFW’s Carol Award and Romantic Times’ Inspirational Book of the Year. His latest novel, Lethal Remedy, won a 2012 Selah Award. His next medical thriller, Stress Test, releases in March 2013 from Thomas Nelson and Sons.
It’s worth noting that Isaac’s conception occurred only after Abimelek asked Abraham to pray the Lord would restore fertility to his people (Genesis 20).
This chapter and the part of 21 reporting the treaty form an inclusio around the narrative of Isaac’s birth (21:1-7) and show a spiritual progression from the man who was more afraid of Abimelek (I?) than of God to the man whom Abimelek (II?) feared because God was with him.
The inclusio ends with Abrham planting a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, where he stayed a long time and called on God.
Abraham’s change from the man who rescued Lot and had the chutzpah to bargain with God about sparing Sodom to the man who was more afraid of Abimelek, the petty king of a Philistine border town, marks an unexplained low point in his career.
Was it due to his lapse from calling on God rather than God’s silence?
Thanxx, and peace like a river
Wow. You have no idea how this post spoke to me today. I’m in the final stages of editing my book, and I’ve been asking The Lord for clarity on a few chapters. Without going into to too much detail, this post answered my prayer. Thanking Christ for you today.
Richard and Dabney, thanks for your comments. Glad you dropped by.
I have discovered the longest periods of silence have been those times when I have chosen not to listen. Thank you for your words Doc.
I’ve spoken with several writers who struggle against the waiting that comes with the writing life — and I’ve been one of those writers. Appreciate the wisdom of this post.
Just what I needed today! Can’t say I’m worried but discouragement hit hard this morning. Nice to know I’m not the only one, and even nicer to remember this too may be a gift from God.
A wise post about silent times, which are easier to appreciate in hindsight. I look back and see perfect timing, but in the middle of it, it’s not so perfect looking or feeling.
I love your reminder to keep the faith because God’s timing is right whether I like it or not. I’m especially grateful to have stopped by since my word for 2013 is ponder. Sounds like a lot of silence ahead. Thanks, Richard.
Thanks to everyone who left a comment. I wrote this because I needed it–glad I shared it with some folks who needed it as well.
And Kim, regarding “Ponder”–there used to be a really good steak house in the little North Texas town by that name. Sounds like a divine call to chicken fried steak. : )
This is so true. God is so good to give us just what we need when we need it. There are sowing times and reaping times. Thanks for posting.
Thank you so much for this post. It ministered to me in a powerful way.
Thank you for your words! I’ve been focused on writing the past five years and was preparing for the next step at the ACFW conference. Since the conference life has been totally upside down with no time for writing as we deal with major home renovations,living between two locations,health issues, and death in the family. Thanks for the reminder this is only a season.
Doc, thanks for a beautiful post. These times of silence can be excruciating… and they occur regularly in the writing life, as well as in “regular” life. And… in the agenting life too!
My thanks to each of you for dropping by, and for leaving a comment. I pray that our days when God is silent are as useful as the times when He speaks loud and clear.
So many posts this week about patience and waiting! I hate to admit it, but I’ve needed them. Thanks, Dr. Mabry, for your wisdom. I’m saving your post to reread later when I need encouragement…again.
“Despite four published novels, I endured a silent period again, waiting for a publisher to want my work.”
Wow. I had no idea. I’m showing my naivet? by saying I thought only prepub writers have to wait to get published. Thank you for this fact. I’ll file it away for future reference.