Did you have a secret wish as a child, something you longed to do "someday" when you grew up? Me, too. I wanted to write a novel.
When you make such a bold confession at age 10, people hide their smiles. "Is that so? Good luck, honey," they comment. (For the record, they say the same thing when you're 20, 30, 40, or 50.)
At 10, I only heard the "good luck" part.
I bought a ruled notebook with a fake marble cover and began my first novel, The Mountain Cabin Mystery. Hand-written with a Ticonderoga pencil, it was page after page of perfectly awful prose, such as
"Eighteen-year-old Betsy Lane was a girl of action and excitement." (Oh, dear. Pray for Betsy.)
"She found a thin manilla (hmmm like vanilla?) envelope in the secret passageway, hidden in a dark corner." (Never guess I was writing a mystery, huh?)
Three months later, I proudly displayed the finished product on my bookshelf, bought a second notebook, and started The Secret of Lakeview Manor, followed by The Ghost of Pine Lane, The Mystery at Snow Castle, A Clue by Candlelight you get the idea.
Nancy Drew: Take Two, with deepest apologies to Carolyn Keene.
Ten juvenile mysteries poured from my pencil before I went off to college, storing my fiction hopes in a cardboard box in my parents' attic. Those notebooks quietly gathered dust while I pursued a broadcasting career, then marriage, motherhood, and public speaking, my dream of writing a novel all but forgotten.
But God didn't forget, not for one patient minute.
He nudged me year after yearjust as he may be tugging at your heart right nowwhispering, "What are you waiting for, child? Open it. Open your gift." Since "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights" (James 1:17), then you can be sure whatever gifts were tucked in your young heart came from the hand of God.
Often we display our gifts proudly as children, then hide them in adulthood, hoping no one will ask us, "Do you draw? Can you play the piano? Do you know how to sew?"
"Not really," we murmur, fearing risk, dreading failure, convinced those things we loved to do as kids were nothing but child's play, when in truth they were a gift from God, placed in our small hands with big expectations.
Last summer, my husband came strolling into my office, a grin stretched across his face. "Your brother called. Says he found something of yours in the attic."
When the crate from Pennsylvania arrived, I paged through The Mountain Cabin Mystery, teary-eyed and overwhelmed. I'd forgotten the story, but I remembered well the girl who wrote itcurled up on her bedroom chair, pouring her heart out on those lined pages, dreaming of the day she might write a real novel.
The Lord knew, long before I knew him, that I would become a storyteller someday. Just as I'd hidden that box in the attic for safekeeping, God had stored that dream deep inside a corner of my heart and waited for me to find it again.
"Someday" took a long while. From my first pretend novel to my first published one tookgulp!35 years. By our measure, a lifetime. By God's reckoning, right on time.
My kids looked over my shoulder, wide-eyed, as I paged through my notebooks. "Wow, Mom. If you were an author when you were ten, why'd you wait so long to start writing stories again?"
You and I know the truth: The question isn't, "Why did I wait so long?" The question is, "Why wait another minute?"
Open your gift, beloved. It's never too late for a child's dream to see the light of day.
Liz Curtis Higgs is author of numerous books, including her most recent, Here Burns My Candle (WaterBrook Press).
Copyright © 2002 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian Woman magazine.
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