Operation First Novel is a contest for, as it says, authors submitting an unpublished novel. The contest is sponsored by the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild.
This year I entered my novel.
Huh. When I pushed the send button on my entry form no flares went up, no confetti, no balloons, no champagne cork popped. Didn’t it register in the universe that I had just submitted my novel to a contest?
No—nothing. Then I remembered what a lonely business writing is. Really, it’s more alone than lonely. I’m not lonely when I write—generally I’m having fun somewhere on the fun continuum between good enough and a blast.
After submission, then a writer waits—and waits—and waits.
Years ago, while whining to the Lord about waiting on something else, the scripture came to mind “watch and pray” (Matthew 26:41). Whether or not I get what I think I want, I don’t wait alone—I wait with the Lord—and I wait actively—watching and praying.
There are a lot of I‘s in that last sentence— enough to gag on. My fervent prayer is that the Lord helps me get out of His way so He can use me. But I’m no better than the disciples—I keep falling asleep when I’m asked to “watch and pray.” Then it’s—wake up—slap cold water on my face—and try again.
As Peter Leavell, winner of Operation First Novel 2011, said “…God knows the end (Jeremiah 29:11). He knew I would win.” Likewise, He knows exactly what will come of my novel. That’s weird to know while I wait, but that’s part of God’s process—teaching us to trust Him in the dark. But it’s still…well…dark, and sometimes my lower lip trembles.
I don’t expect to win the contest, but I want to win the prize. “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)