Like the pause between closing your hand in a car door and the scream of pain, time froze, and so did I.
Months ago an acquisitions editor had asked me to submit a manuscript for my first devotional book, Joy in the Journey. But I had a big problem—I didn’t have a manuscript.
All I had was a collection of devotional pieces I’d written during my ten-year term as support group leader of our local homeschool group.
Some devotions were on my computer, so all I had to do was format them correctly. Others were paper and ink copies stuffed in a notebook. These I had to transcribe, one word at a time, to add them to the manuscript.
B.I.C. is a well-known acronym among writers. It stands for Butt in Chair. I.C. aptly describes where my B. had been for two solid days. Pushed to get the manuscript to the editor before he forgot he'd asked for it, I’d been pecking away at the project non-stop. I’d sequestered myself in a room, emerging only to eat, drink, and go to the bathroom.
On the second night (or, really, the third morning, because it was well after midnight), I closed my computer and fell into bed, exhausted but relieved I’d made so much progress. Eight more hours should do it were the last words my tired brain registered before I fell asleep.
I went to church the next morning, then opened the computer for the final B.I.C. session. That’s when my heart stopped, and my blood turned cold.
My manuscript, the one in which I had invested the last 36 hours of my life, was gone.
Gone like hard-earned money at tax time.
Gone like campfire smoke on a windy day.
Gone like a helium balloons from tiny children's hands.
Despite every attempt at recovery, it was irretrievably gone.
Speechless in shock and disbelief, one feeble thought pushed itself into my frozen brain:
You have two choices: Quit or start over.
Oh, how I wanted to quit. It was too hard. I was too tired.
But because I believed in what I was doing, I started over. I briefly contemplated a third choice, cry, but since I was starting over from the very beginning, crying would only waste time. I decided to cry later, when it was finished.
I took a deep breath, prayed a silent prayer, then opened a new Word document and began to type.
Some of you are facing the same choices I faced on that dreadful day in 2011—only the stakes are much higher. You might be thinking about giving up on your marriage, your wayward child, or your church. You may feel like all your hard work toward sobriety, purity, or financial responsibility has vanished, and you’re back to square one.
You want to quit, because it’s too hard. The road is too long. The task is too great. There’s too much going against you, and you feel like you’re the only one who cares.
But you believe in what you’re doing.
You believe God can heal your marriage, restore that wayward child, or rebuild your church. You deeply desire to be sober, pure, or debt free. God has put the dream in your heart, and you know nothing’s too hard for him.
But you’re tired. So tired.
Tired of fighting. Tired of praying. Tired of believing when no one else seems to.
You, too, have two choices: Quit or start over.
If you quit, you’ve automatically failed.
If you start over, you might fail. But you might succeed.
Wouldn’t you rather die trying, hoping, and believing, than wonder forever what might have happened if you hadn’t quit?
I learned two things that dark day in March 2011. First, I learned that I’m not a quitter. Second, I learned that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
Eighteen months after I lost two-thirds of my manuscript, I held Joy in the Journey, Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms in my hands. It hasn’t become a New York Times Bestseller, but God has used it to encourage homeschooling moms around the world. Looking back, I'm glad I didn't quit. I think they are, too.
Father, you know how frail we are, and how easily discouraged we become. When setbacks come our way, we grow weary and fainthearted. Thank you for the promise that “those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isa. 40:31).
We need you today. Hold us when we cry. Strengthen us when we doubt. Comfort us when we falter. Give us the determination we need to persevere. Help us keep our eyes on you and trust you to use our trials for our good and your glory. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.