Trusting in GodTrust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. –Psalm 62:8
A couple weeks ago, I made a list of markets that look like a good matches for several pieces of my short fiction. I told my husband that it’s high time I get some of my stronger work out there, and he heartily agreed. However, once the markets I listed were identified and organized, grouped by story and tiered by submission policy, I floundered. The stories need more tinkering, I decided. All of them.
Whether they really need the work or not, I know what’s going on here. Once those submissions are sent, there’s little left to do but wait and pray. Right now, I can still add, cut, revise, even completely reimagine if I want. I still have the airy mirage of control in my grasp. Once I hit “Send,” that’s gone.
At least those of us leading the writer’s life know that we’re signing up for extra helpings of circumstances beyond our control. Daily life confronts every one of us with situations we didn’t sign up for, over which we have no perceived or actual influence. Those moments, some more dire than others, alert us to the emptiness of our hands and signal to us that all we can do is pray. Sometimes words fail during those sideline prayers spoken from behind computer screens, in hospital waiting rooms, or from the driver’s seat of a car while creeping past an accident. When they do, we have a promise in Romans 8:26-27 that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness, interceding “with groanings too deep for words.”
Surrender comes quickly in those moments when no other option avails to us. Prayers uttered from a position of weakness hope in nothing but the power of God. However, most of us struggle with trusting the Lord the rest of the time. When we see a course of action, we might view it as a false sense of control in the situation. Acting first and praying later tells God, “It’s all You … except it’s a little bit me.”
Don’t misunderstand – I’m not claiming that believers shouldn’t act when appropriate, and promptly when necessary. Nehemiah consulted God even as he spoke to King Artaxerxes regarding the rebuilding Judah, and the oft-quoted verse 1 Thessalonians 5:17 bids us “Pray without ceasing.” I am saying though that the opportunities for hard work, wise decisions, or heroic rescues are themselves blessings. Psalm 37:3 succinctly states the relationship between trust and action: “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” Trust should precede action; a trusting heart becomes willing to obey God and to do good, and provides fertile ground for faithfulness to grow.
Whether we pray from the sidelines or on the move, God is in control. His goodness isn’t circumstantial; it is never based us or what we can or cannot do for ourselves. Psalm 62:8 gives instructions with a promise: “Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.”
As for my story submissions, I’ll take my own advice and prayerfully consider whether one more round of revisions is actually warranted or is just a nervous stalling tactic. Where my words eventually land, and the work they do when they get there, is all in His hands. Surrender requires me to relinquish control to my Lord, and that entails admitting that I was never in control in the first place.