As we think of Christmas we focus on God sending his Son into the world to redeem the world, but may overlook a key truth that has personal application. The apostle Paul touches that truth when he writes to the Galatians, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, burn under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of a son (Gal. 4:4).” The key phrase is “when the time had fully come,” which we easily apply to the fulfillment of prophecy concerning the coming of the Messiah, but could that concept have application in our life as writers? More specifically, does God have a time in mind when whatever we have written, be it poem, article, book, church drama, screenplay, should be introduced to the public, when writer, editor and publisher come together to deliver a creative writer’s final version in print? Or is it all a matter of delivering a finely honed, properly edited manuscript and hoping for the best?
Let’s check into Jesus’ life and examine what he says about timing. There’s Jesus at the wedding in Cana and his mother tells him they have run out of wine. Jesus’ response is, “My time has not yet come.” But then he does turn water into wine, which tells me his response to his mother has a much wider significance—that the time for his unveiling as the Messiah had not yet come. We discover that Jesus knew when his time had come when he prays, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you (John 17:1).” But does this assurance on Jesus’ part also have application to our life as writers? Anecdotal examples do not prove a theological point, but through many years in publishing I’ve seen some remarkable examples of what I consider God’s timing. Let me give some recent examples involving just one writer.
Several years ago I was approached at the annual Canadian writers conference, Write!Canada, by the publisher of a small press in Toronto and told to check into a Canadian pastor/writer, Murray Pura. He suggested the writer had more potential than he could fulfill with his small press. When I connected with Murray, I discovered he had written a novel based on experiences of family members in their Ukrainian Catholic Church. I realized there were still barriers to Catholic stories in evangelical publishing, but I decided to test the proposal in U.S. publishing circles. I quickly discovered they still existed. But in God’s timing, his writing so impressed a Zondervan editor that he asked if Murray did any other kind of writing. Yes, he did, and in God’s timing Zondervan published two books of Murray’s meditations, Rooted and Streams. While their sales were not exciting, I more recently discovered God had a unique purpose for them.
Last summer I received an e-mail from Jon Wilcox, a senior editor at Baker Books, outlining several categories of books he was looking for. One category was non-fiction action/adventure true stories. I alerted Murray, who lives in the foothills of the Rockies and loves walking and camping in the wild. He quickly wrote three stories of encountering wild animals, which I submitted to Jon. His response? He wanted the stories to be more like those in Rooted and Streams, which he had read. Rewritten, Murray’s stories gained him a publishing contract for Majestic and Wild.
Yet remember, I got in touch with Murray because he is a fiction writer. At my suggestion he tried his hand at an Amish historical romance based in neighboring Montana. That was released by Barbour in 2012 as A Bride’s Flight from Virginia City, Montana. Writing that book proved so enjoyable, Murray wrote a second Amish historical, but Barbour was not ready for a second, so I shopped it with other editors. No one seemed interested. But then in a coffee room at the Oregon Summer Coaching Conference I met Nick Harrison, editor at Harvest House. As I stirred coffee I asked him if he might be interested in a Murray Pura novel featuring an Amish young man and his sweetheart from World War I. As I gave him a quick summary of the story he commented that he had read Murray’s proposal for his first Amish historical and really liked it, so asked me to send him the proposal. In a matter of weeks that “chance” conversation, clearly God’s timing, resulted in a Harvest House fiction contract for Murray. The Wings of Morning was released in 2011. Since then he has had several more Amish historical novels published, all because of a “chance” conversation in a coffee room that in retrospect was part of God’s timing.
As I’ve thought about possible other examples of God’s perfect timing for writers I can see a clear pattern, a combination of first rate creative writing and the intersection with editors looking for a specific kind of book. I can only affirm that I have seen God’s timing over and over again in my life as a writer, editor, publisher, and now as literary agent. We do not have to be a spiritual giant like the apostle Paul, just be alert to God’s opportunities, his timing.