I heard the UPS truck pull up in front of our house and my heart skipped a little beat. My books had finally arrived! My children ran down to the door and helped carry the four boxes up to the living room. Even Benny wanted to get in on the excitement as he came up to me with a knife in his hand so he could help me cut the tape. I let him work on one side as I worked on the other side. Then, with bated breath I opened the top and pulled back the paper. It was finally here! The long wait was over and I could hold my finished work in my hands. I took a book out and looked it over carefully. It seemed okay, but for some reason, a feeling that something was not right came over me. I got out my first two books and measured the book to see if it was the same size. You see, back when I received the proof, it had arrived 1/4 inch shorter on the length and the width, making it look like a short, stocky book. It did not match the others. The proof also had a problem in the prologue, where page 13 and 14 were flipped around, which would not have made for a easy, smooth read right when it is most important.
So, I measured the new book to the old ones and though the sizing was better, it was still slightly shorter. "Oh well," I commented to Joe. "I can live with it as long as they can fix it during the next printing." Yet, something was still not right in my spirit.
I took the box with me to church that evening, but seeing we had missionaries and a lot going on during service, I decided to not have Pastor announce it and would wait until Sunday. I may not have felt right to make a formal announcement that night, but I showed the books to a few people. Three families even bought a book, very excited to have the final story in their hands. It was at this point, when I was taking a book out to sign, I discovered one of the them had been pasted into the cover completely upside down! I was shocked and embarressed. How could that have happened? Nobody could possibly read a book upside down and backwards to boot? I decided this issue needed further investigation. Five books total went out over those two days. The issue came to a head Thursday evening when one of the readers texted me and informed me that page 13 and 14 were flipped. I ran to find another book and checked it out. Sure enough, the pages were out of order. I sighed as the pain of my heart twisted a bit. What else could be wrong?
Suddenly, I wondered about the ending. After I had received my proof and was working with the printer about the changes I wanted, I had told Joe I felt the ending needed a little bit more work. We had worked one more night on the final paragraph of the book, molding and shaping it to fit the other books' endings, as well as leaving the readers with a sense that God still works today, doing miracles, and revealing Himself through even the smallest of ways. It was not the end, but the beginning for some characters. So, with big letters, I wrote, "The Beginning..." for my ending. My heart felt lighter knowing the book was complete now.
As I turned to look at the back page, the final twist of the knife tugged on my heart as I saw the old words, "The end?" still boldly staring at me from the last page. They had used the wrong document! With a heavy spirit, I wrote to the company and explained everything. I had wanted to have these books for the Ladies Conference next Saturday. Would it even be possible to think I could have the new, corrected set by next week? The good news is the company is working with me on this and doing all they can to get the books in by Friday.
I know God is never late. He has a plan, and even if it means He wants me to continue to wait on Him, then I will continue to wait on Him. I may feel like giving up; I may feel like getting on my face and sobbing my eyes out; I may feel like everything has gone wrong, yet God never fails. Did I not give Him this project? Did I not say it was to His glory? No matter how the earthly, fleshly part of me feels, God is still inside me telling me to "be still and know that I am God." Maybe this is not about perfecting the book that is going to be read by a few. Maybe this is about perfecting me, His child, who will be read by even more people as I go about my daily life. More people will read me and my actions then will read my book. May I endure this perfecting with grace and humbleness of spirit; may He grant me the boldness to shine for Him no matter where I go. Just like my penpal and good friend from Israel always tells me, "Keep shining!"
Please pray and believe with me that those books will be in by next Friday, just in time for the Ladies Conference. God is a God of miracles, is He not? Amen!