I could read their thoughts from their faces. How will I ever remember all this? I might as well quit now. I have no chance of ever being published.
My next words made their long faces even longer. “And whether you like the guidelines or not, the editor holds all the cards. She has the ultimate authority to accept or reject your work, because she’s the editor. She wrote the rules, and you have to follow them if you want to write for her publication.”
But then I said something that made their gloomy faces perk up. “I want to tell you a secret,” I said, and waited until everyone was looking at me. “It’s true that there are a lot of reasons for an editor to say no. But deep down inside, she wants to say yes.”
My statement surprised many of the attendees. They assumed that the long list of requirements to get an article accepted means editors are looking for reasons to reject an article. “On the contrary,” I said. “It gives an editor great joy to accept a submission that follows the rules of the publication.
At the risk of calling down lightening from heaven, I’ll make another surprising statement: Editors are a lot like God.
Stay with me. By the end of this post, I think you’ll agree.
An editor has one goal in mind—to put together the best book/magazine/ezine possible. In order to do this, she (or the publication she works for) creates a set of guidelines. This helps writers know exactly what’s expected of them.
If they follow the guidelines, guess what? Their book or article gets accepted, and they are happily on their way to publication. If they don’t, the editor rejects their work. No arguing. No explaining. No second chances. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
In the spiritual realm, God is our editor. He has one goal in mind—to have a relationship with us. To help relate to him, he created a set of guidelines. Unlike the pages and pages of writers’ guidelines, however, the simple version of God’s requirements can be summed up in one sentence: “. . . if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9).
Even more than magazine and book editors, though, God really really wants to say yes to us. To make it easy for people to understand his guidelines, he sent judges, kings, and prophets to help explain them. Then he inspired them to write down everything he said, so we could have a permanent record.
And if that wasn’t enough, he came down to earth in the form of his Son. This was for the people who said, “It’s hard to believe in a God I can’t see. But if he appears to me, THEN I’ll believe.”
Guess what? He did, and they didn’t.
As a magazine editor, I occasionally encounter a writer who argues with me about my magazine’s guidelines. “I’m an individual, and I don’t appreciate having my creativity stifled by having to follow your rules. I prefer to write according to my own rules.”
Writers like this are like those who reject God’s law and choose to go their own way. Romans 1 describes them this way: They “exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator. . .”
Like an editor, whether we like his guidelines or not, God holds all the cards. He has the ultimate authority to accept or reject us, because he is God. He wrote the rules, and we must follow them if we want him to accept us.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh (according to our own guidelines), but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
For what the law (my own attempts at pleasing God) could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1-4).
Now it’s time for me to ask: Whose guidelines are you following? Your own, or God’s? When you die and stand before him, and he asks you, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” will he accept you or reject you?
If you’re not sure, click here to read more about how to have a relationship with God. I think you’ll be happy to discover that he wants to say YES. If you already have a relationship with God, please consider sharing this with a friend or on social media.
And if you’re a writer in the Columbia, SC, area and would like to attend this Saturday’s (July 23, 2016) Summer Seminar for Christian Writers where other writing professionals and myself will be presenting workshops to help you grow as a writer (including the workshop I’ve referenced above, “10 Mistakes that Make Magazine Editors Say No”), CLICK HERE for more information.