A Bathroom, a Penny, and a Magazine Part Three
This is part three of a blog series. If you haven't read parts one or two, start here to catch up!
Imagine being aboard a ship at sea, mere miles from the coastline, but lost in darkness and a storm. Imagine, further, that you are searching, helplessly but hopelessly through the storm for a lone light in the thick wall of blackness.
A lighthouse. A beacon to guide you ashore, to help you not only find the shore, but navigate the treacherous rocks or sandbars that would run you aground and leave you forsaken and forgotten upon those merciless waters.
I was, figuratively, that one. I stared through trial after trial, but there was no light. Until that is, I found Bryan Davis, as I wrote about in my previous post. His words were a beacon, and I began to slowly and carefully follow it to shore, to a place where I could feel the freedom and faith Christ had given me but that had been drowned in a sea of troubles.
The beacon came in the form of emails. First, as previously stated, he encouraged me to write and gave me Biblical proof that I was doing nothing wrong. Next, he gave me some resources: writing videos and his testimony. I've already established what my life was like during that time, but allow me to paint the picture of the context in which I watched/listened to those videos:
I was a machinist. I worked twelve hour shifts in a factory, mostly alone.
I was in school, full time. I would leave my twelve hour shift, drive over half an hour, and then sit in developmental math classes for 3 1/2 hours. After that, I would drive nearly an hour home, shower, eat, do a ton of homework, sleep maybe two hours, and repeat.
I had spent about seven years working toward what I thought God wanted me to do, only to have it all come crashing down on me when I had finally achieved some success, so now I was questioning my purpose and was truly wondering if God was done with me.
Back to the story.
I would turn on one of the videos while I was at work, put my headphones in, and listen to them. I couldn't watch (seriously, I was working), but listening was great, and it was the only time I could. They were very informative, and I learned a lot about writing through them. Then, I came to the last video, his testimony. It's amazing, and I encourage everyone to watch and listen. (You can watch it here, towards the end of the video, but the whole thing is awesome) During this, he speaks about having trouble coming up with the plot and purpose of one of his books in the Dragons in our Midst series.
He says that he began finding a dime and two pennies everywhere. He and his wife found them, paired that way: on running trails, outside their house, under a lamp in an airport parking lot, and all over the place. This went on for months, and he had been asking God what it was about. Clearly, this wasn't coincidence. A dime here or there? Sure. A couple of pennies? Sure. But a dime and two pennies, always together and always in their path? Seriously? Coincidence? No.
He then realized that anyone can be in the ten, but to be the one that stands out against the odds takes courage. It takes faith. It was, he saw, just like Joshua and Caleb in the book of Numbers. The rest of their party came back from the Promised Land with a wicked report, casting doubt on the rest of the nation. Joshua and Caleb trusted the Lord and encouraged them to go and conquer the land. The message for Mr. Davis: don't be the ten. Have faith. Be one of the few who stand up to the crowd. And that was it. He wrote the book, and he came to a place where he fully trusted in the Lord to guide his stories.
So, there I was, sweeping the floor and listening to that message and hearing him talk about his true purpose. I look down, and I see it.
Not just any penny, either. I bent down, picked it up, and inspected it. The mint date was 1980, the year I was born. Now, you might be skeptical, but I know the Lord put that penny there, and He put it there for me. I didn't fully understand it then, but I knew one thing for sure. I was not washed up, finished. There was still a plan for me. I was hand-crafted by the same God that molded the universe, which meant that I had a purpose. I was born with a purpose, and though I wandered and took years to trust the Lord as my Savior, spent years toiling away at something He never designed me to be, He hadn't given up on me.
He saw what I was going through. That moment told me that much of what I had been through had been on purpose. I was being shaped, molded for greatness. Not my greatness but His great plan and purpose. I still carry that penny, and many times since then, when I begin to doubt my purpose, I have found another one in the most unlikely places. 1980. A hand-stitched writer was born. It took several decades to break that writer in and fill him with a story worth telling, but it was worth it.
Suddenly, every trial had meaning. Every emotional scar became the hand print of God. So, to return to my illustration of a beacon guiding lost ships to the shore. While the words of Mr. Davis became a beacon during my dark time, the penny was almost like a clearing of the skies. The storms didn't seem so violent; they were living portraits on my canvas. The darkness could no longer convince me that it would last forever because the light of the Lamb was no longer hidden by my lack of faith and out shined the blackness of night.
The penny brought me home. When I arrived at the "shore," I was free. I was ready to continue the journey I was supposed to have been on all the while, and I embraced my time on the lonely sea as just a leg of that epic trek. And it was in those early days of freedom that I sat down to write what would become Fate of the Watchman.
That's another story, one I'll tell on my next blog post.