Thursday, August 9, 2012

Catching the Vision

Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law."

The Message says it this way, "If people can't see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.

God has a plan for your life. You may think you know exactly what that plan looks like, or you may be overwhelmed by what feels like a lack of clarity. But chances are that if you're reading this, you are called to be a writer. You may have doubts or feel discouraged, but those things don't take away your calling.

I think all of us, at one time or another, doubt our calling. Especially whenever circumstances seem to confirm our worst fears... we've been waisting our time. We began to listen to the voices that say no one will ever read these stories, that our efforts don't matter, that we'll never change the world. That we've spent too much time away from our families, too much money on books and conferences that aren't going to make a difference anyway because we'll never be published. We don't final in a contest, and suddenly we take the criticism a little too close to heart, believing we are worthless as writers.

But think of your favorite author. What if she had believed she was worthless as a writer? Maybe she did believe that at one time. Maybe she had more rejections than you have and faced even more criticism. Did you know Robin Jones Gunn was turned down by 10 publishers before she finally found someone who wanted to publish the Christy Miller Series, which has now been in print for twenty-four years. Twenty-four years!

Take a look at what she wrote about this on her blog: "It took me two years to write that first Christy Miller story - a mere 160 pages. I wrote and rewrote the book many times over as I learned from the girls in our church youth group what they liked and didn't like in the story. During that time I sent the opening chapters to a total of ten publishers and all ten turned it down. Many of them said they didn't see a market for teens." You can read the rest of that story here:

Did you catch that? Many of the publishers said they didn't see a market for teens. But thank God, Robin saw something they didn't. She caught the vision God put on her heart, and she held on. And that vision continues, even today, to touch the hearts of readers and change lives. In fact, that series is one of the reasons I am even writing this blog. Christy Miller's story is what drew me to Christian fiction as a teenage girl, and I don't know if I would've discovered the genre and opportunities ahead of me if it hadn't been for Robin.

Let's talk about three different aspects that affect our vision in our calling.

Blurred Vision
So often, things start off well and we have forward motion, with a clear goal and vision in mind. But over time, other things enter into our perspective. And little by little, these things cloud our vision. Just like actual vision can grow clouded over time, we lose sight of what is ahead of us, and often this process is so gradual that we don't even see it happening. Before we know it, we've allowed doubts, insecurities, and criticism, as well as concerns regarding things like time and finances and relationships, to cloud the clear dreams God has set out before us. What has come into your life that has blurred your sight of your goals? How can you cast those things off, cleaning off the lenses of your life like a pair of glasses?

Closed Eyes
Sometimes our vision is more than just clouded. Sometimes we feel as if we can't see at all. But the thing is, our vision is still there. It's just behind the barrier of our closed eyes.
When big things happen to detract and pull us from our goals, it can be very easy to just shut down. Have you ever been rejected by an agent or publisher you really thought would be a good fit? After things like this happen, we all feel like giving up. The problem here is, the vision is still before us. We're just choosing to look the other way. And so long as you are turning your head away from your vision, you will never be satisfied in life. It's time we realize God has not made a mistake in calling us to the writing life. He has put this joy, these dreams, these stories in our hearts, and part of our job is to hold on. We will never see His plans, nor see them realized, if we don't first open our eyes.

Seeing Freely
Only when we recognize the things that are hindering us will we be able to cast these things off and live in freedom, seeing clearly the vision He has cast for our lives. But until we get our perspective correct, until all we see is Christ, we will never know true freedom. And the incredible thing is, this is the place where we find the most beautiful stories of all: stories of redemption, of love, of hope, of peace, of dreams.

Have you ever felt like your sight has become blurred? How can we move past these hindrances to see our goals clearly and "catch our vision" again?

Ashley Clark writes romantic comedy with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blogFacebook,Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.


Unknown said...

I'm a writer but my vision isn't for writing.But God gave it to me for a reason, and I write for a girls mag
it kind of a on the side thing, preparing me for the big
stuff but the big stuff is so big that I wonder if its me or Him.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Ashley, this is beautiful. You have such a motivation way of saying the truth! You blessed me today.

Unknown said...

Ashley, thanks for this. I agree with Sherrinda. It's beautiful. Yes, my vision has been blurred, as my mind listend to the voices of doubt. I am learning to move beyond those moments and choose to remember the truths God has shown me about writing.

The biggest truth that clears my vision is remembering that God gave me this story to write. He also usually guides me to the words I need to hear from other writers so that I can move out of introspection and back to clear vision.

Thanks for these truths today!

Jacqueline Howett said...

until all we see is Christ, we will never know true freedom

A wonderful, positive angle!

Thanks for sharing!

Enjoy your week!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Ashley,

Loved your analogy to blurry vision! I've been suffering from this - both literally and figuratively!

It's hard to keep focused in this business sometimes - to keep motivated and believe in your dream.

Thanks for the uplifting words!


Ashley Clark said...

Tiffany, it's awesome that you feel called to write for girls' magazines. What an amazing opportunity!

Ashley Clark said...

Aw, thanks Sherrinda! You are always so sweet!

Ashley Clark said...

Jeanne, thanks for sharing that with us! It reminds me of a verse I just read... That God remembers each sparrow, and we ought not be afraid because we are worth so much more than sparrows. I love that passage because it speaks to God's provision and care for us, His creation. He hasn't forgotten our dreams be encouraged!

Ashley Clark said...

Thanks, Jacqueline! Glad you could stop by!

Ashley Clark said...

Ha! Thank you, Sue! Hope you feel encouraged today in God's calling.

Ava Walker Jenkins said...

What a lovely, encouraging post, Ashley. I really identified with your line: "Especially whenever circumstances seem to confirm our worst fears... we've been wasting our time."
I've said those very words before and then finally made the decision to press on. The joy returned and more support followed. God is slowly expanding the dream, but the key word for me is "Slowly".

Joanne Sher said...

Such an encouraging post, Ashley. I needed the reminder VERY much. Love all three analogies. THANK you.

Ashley Clark said...

Ava, thank you for sharing that! I think our strength is best shown when we feel like throwing in the towel, so it says a lot about you that you stuck with it! Hope you start seeing the fruit of that soon!

Thank YOU, Joanne! Glad it encouraged you!

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

I loved your example of Robin - how she "saw" something the publishers couldn't see. What a great illustration of holding on to a vision.

I'll be reading this post over again. I needed this. Thanks, Ashley.

Ashley Clark said...

You are such a beautiful writer, Karen. I know good things are coming your way!