Late, But Right On Time

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Late, But Right On Time

I started writing my book, Uncensored Prayer, about forty years ago.  At the time, the idea of a book didn’t exist.  I wrote poems – my dairy – meant for no one else to read.  Words were solace, a vent, a safe black hole where feelings and thoughts went in and never came out.  Too many times, words had been used as a weapon against me, backed up by actions against which I had no defense.  But in poetry, it was safe to bleed, rage, and cry, which was a comfort without equal.

My writing grew in intensity along with me, influenced by years of incest, bad marriages, and alcoholism. The focus of my anger shifted from other people to a God who was present, but offered no protection or deliverance.  God didn’t answer my prayers because I didn’t measure up to His or Her standards.  Help wasn’t late; it was non-existent.

About ten years ago, there was no more room on the page for all of my compressed pain.  So I screamed at God, wanting to hurt as much as be heard.  The entire volcano blew, but I was totally unprepared for what I received:  compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness – the very things I had never given myself.  And so began my practice of uncensored prayer and wrestling with God.

By this time, “what if” thoughts came to me about a book, and were quickly disassembled.  I mean, who would publish such unguarded emotions?  I knew I was a wordsmith, and that my poems had both quality and depth, but…

Until eight months ago.  A good friend coaxed me into reading some of my work before a group of Outlaw Preachers.  My first selection was one of my most searing poems, raw and full of vulnerable passion and pain.  “Let’s get it over with now,” I thought. If they were offended or rejected me, my belief about becoming a published author would be vindicated.  But I received a standing ovation, and an editor in the room asked to publish my book.  It was late in my life, but came just when I was ready to step out of my computer into public view.

Last month, I scheduled my official book release event in a local coffeehouse, advertised it to the max, and begged my friends to attend.  One hundred twenty books were ordered, due to arrive in plenty of time.  I waited.  Finally checking the tracking number, I discovered the shipment had inadvertently been sent to California instead of here.  My editor handled the situation, receiving the company’s guarantee my precious box would be delivered no later than 5:00 PM the day of the event, due to begin one hour later.

5:00 PM, no truck.  I fought back tears while my husband told me to take deep breaths, like we were in Lamaze class.  By 5:15 PM, we decided to buy a free drink for anyone who came expecting to purchase a book and have it autographed.  Then we would deliver the books to them later.

5:25 PM.  We couldn’t wait any longer.  I was mortified, but switched my prayer from, “God, I NEED those books” to “God I need YOU to help me through this.”

And then the truck came.  Late, but right on time.

It makes me think of the story in Genesis 22 when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac.  God had promised Abraham that his son would father a great nation, which couldn’t happen if Isaac died now since he had no children.  Obviously, the worst thing is God was asking Abraham to kill his son.  This is the very kind of terrifying, horrible God I feared for so many years.  I still shy away from stories like this in the Bible, because Attila the Hun isn’t the God of love I know today.

But here’s the pertinent point just now.  At the last possible moment, God intervened to save Isaac’s life and deliver my books.  I know there’s a huge difference here, but the principle’s the same.  God gave both of us a chance to act in faith.  Even though sacrificing his son made no sense to Abraham and seemed to cancel God’s promise, Abraham believed everything was going to work out just like God said.

God never promised that box would arrive in time for this important occasion, though I assumed it would.  The shipping company broke their promise, not God. But I believe my prayer of faith was honored, because my focus had shifted from something to the Someone who would help me, no matter what happened and no matter how I felt.  I had the opportunity to realize a book release event could take place without books, and formed an alternative plan.  If the truck hadn’t been late, I would have missed out on this valuable lesson.

I know God has a different agenda than I do, and He/She has guaranteed that I won’t understand most of the Divine plan for my life.  But when I trust the One who loves me best to help and deliver me, it’s more than enough, and I’m OK.


About the Author:

I never have found a box that fits me, so I follow Jesus into the wild. My husband, Bud, and I are two life-long hippies, parents of four grown children, and live in Bartlett, TN, with six cats, two dogs, and no TV. I am a voracious reader and am passionate about prison ministry. I am also an advocate for middle-aged and senior women, and anyone who suffers from depression.

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