When God Says “No” … Again Part 5: Harvest

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers.I Corinthians 3:7-9a

My friend “C” had been experiencing what began as a nightmare that threatened to kill her faith. Falsely accused and sentenced to four months in jail, C had seen every prayer answered with a resounding “NO.” But the Lord was holding onto her through the whole ordeal, and as she clung to Him, she began to see His hand working through her in the lives of the people around her. I was privileged to have a part in the plan, as C led a small group study on prayer, using my book BARRIERS (So, if prayers are so powerful, how come mine don’t get answered?).

In case you missed the beginning of her story, here are the first four episodes:

When God Says “No” … Again Part I: The Nightmare

When God Says “No” … Again Part 2: Eggs, Carrots, and Coffee Beans

When God Says “No” … Again Part 3: Tilling the Soil

When God Says “No” … Again Part 4: Sowing Seeds

C continued leading the small group study until her (early!) release, and happily, one of her “girls,” “D” was released soon after.

D had made a commitment Christ during her incarceration and was experiencing a brand-new life. Now drug-free, she was off the street and living with two other women, one a fellow believer. She landed a job – her best paying ever. She reconciled with her children after years of alienation. And she joined a church, which, due to a fire, was having services in a tent at the time. D faithfully came early to every service to help set up and stayed late to help take down.

And D wanted to be baptized. Since the town was located on one of the Great Lakes, it only made sense to have the late summer baptism on the beach. I was about four hours away, and there was talk of my coming for the baptism and meeting her. I thought it would be great fun to surprise D. But when it was said that as the author of BARRIERS I was somewhat “on a pedestal” in the eyes of the women in the jail, the notion raised a red flag for me. Meeting me was not what the coming event was about! Baptism is all about Jesus, period. C and I may have planted and watered, but the Lord was the One who had opened D’s heart, drawn her to Himself, and given her new life.

So, I suggested to C that maybe I could meet D sometime in the future. As I requested, C sent me pictures of the baptism, where it was easy to spot D; she was the one whose face was radiant!

I hope that someday I can go back to my old stomping ground and get together with C, my friend Kelly, who had introduced us, D, who was brought to faith through the circumstances the Lord brought about (or allowed), and maybe even C’s other friend, “R,” who has kept in touch with C and was just released at Christmastime. – Glory!

Maybe I’ll also pay a visit to the women’s section of the county jail, where there are still about a dozen copies of my guide to biblical prayer circulating. (Bible study, anyone?)

In closing, here’s a flashback that may give some encouragement to aspiring authors:

Years ago, I attended a writing and speaking conference, where part of the program was a sort of editorial “speed-dating.” Small tables were set up where writers had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with agents and editors from major publishing companies. We had fifteen minutes to make our pitch before moving on to the next publishing big shot. I had copies of my newly printed book, BARRIERS, to give to any rep who showed an interest.

As I proudly showed my “baby” to one editor, she took one look at the cover and rendered her judgment.

“We would never publish that.”

A bit taken aback, I asked why.

“The title. The cover. It’s too negative.” BARRIERS has the subtitle, “So, if prayers are so powerful, how come mine don’t get answered?” The background is a brick wall and barbed wire.

I turned the book over to show the woman the back cover design – the brick wall knocked down and Jesus’ nail-pierced hands reaching through the rubble.

“Doesn’t matter,” she informed me. “We don’t publish anything with ‘don’t,’ ‘can’t,’ or ‘won’t’ in the title.” Then she opened the book anyway and looked at the table of contents. Chapters had titles like “Barrier #3: Wrong Motives” and “Barrier #5: Wrong Priorities.” She made a sour face. “People don’t want to know what they’re doing wrong,” she said as she slid the book back across the table.

If you’re a writer, you’ve probably been there at one time or another. I was deflated.

Now I look back on that episode and smile. If I hadn’t been forced to be my own publisher, I couldn’t have sent so many (signed) books to the jail so quickly. And while it’s true that a book with a sunrise on the cover and a title like My Utmost for His Highest might be wildly successful with a much broader audience, would such a book on the book cart at a jail be snatched up by women who have hit rock bottom? I can imagine my reaction would be, That’s all I need, another book to remind me what a failure I am. But a book with a snarky title and a brick wall and barbed wire – that I could relate to! (I always told my speech students, “Consider your audience.”)

So, that’s the “divine perspective” I’ve arrived at while relating this story. The Lord not only has a plan for my writing, but He’s setting up scenarios long before they’re even on my radar.

So, whenever I’m disappointed, I just need to remind myself, God’s up to something. Just trust Him and wait.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for all you do for and through us – the times we’re exhilarated with the sense of Your moving in us, and the times we’re not at all happy with what’s happening, but You bring about good anyway. Help us to trust You always, in pleasant times and unpleasant. In Jesus’ name, amen.


31 thoughts on “When God Says “No” … Again Part 5: Harvest

  1. I have to believe you wrote what God wanted you to write, truths you learned from carefully studying God’s Word. There are many “Christian” books out there that are more in tune with what sells than with what the Bible says. Stay true to your calling. Blessings, Annie!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Mark. If I publish an extended edition of “BARRIERS,” this story will be included. I’m also planning to include another chapter: “Praying to the Wrong Person,” from the recent posts on the subject. Come to think of it, maybe that should be Barrier #1. Until we pray to the right Person, we can’t deal with any of the other barriers.

      Are You Praying to the Wrong Person?

      Are You Praying to the Wrong Person? Part II: Saints

      Are You Praying to the Wrong Person? Part III: Angels

      Are You Praying to the Wrong Person? Part IV: Wrong god

      Are You Praying to the Wrong Person? Part V: Wrong Jesus

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A beautiful ending to what sounds like the beginning of a remarkable faith journey for these women. What a wonderful testimony, I’ve enjoyed following these posts and reading them over the past month! ❤️Glory to Him!!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Ann, I have enjoyed these posts. Praise God for turning good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.
    Trusting in the pleasant and unpleasant times- yes, a good reminder for me.
    You writing exactly what God placed on your heart irrespective of what sells- we really have to be obedient to what God calls us to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad the story gave you a gentle smile, Goldie. I hope it spoke to a lot of writers. Years ago I went to a conference of aspiring Christian artists where too many of them came away having learned the “lesson” that their work isn’t good enough for the Lord to use. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a wonderful testimony all around. I’m new to your blog and have been reading the story. I just wondered what happened with C … I take it she got released early as she had mentioned to you in your last post, but how was she when she finally left and got reunited with her family? I love that you didn’t want to take away from the baptism and that you didn’t allow the publisher to dampen your spirit, and now God is being glorified through your book. 🙌

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thanks, KC. Yes, C is doing great. I sent her the draft of each installment of the story to get her OK before sharing it. It was a good thing, because I did get some minor details wrong, and she helped me make the corrections before posting. I have also received her permission to include her story in a new edition of BARRIERS that I am thinking of publishing. (I have learned a few more things since it first went to print.) If I do this, C’s story will be in the appendix. I may also add a chapter, Barrier #15 (OR #1!) “Praying to the Wrong Person,” too. Pretty important. 😉 If you missed those posts, here they are:

      Are You Praying to the Wrong Person?

      Are You Praying to the Wrong Person? Part II: Saints

      Are You Praying to the Wrong Person? Part III: Angels

      Are You Praying to the Wrong Person? Part IV: Wrong god

      Are You Praying to the Wrong Person? Part V: Wrong Jesus

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks so much for links. I’ll check them out. I’m glad C is fine and that you’ll add her story to your book – another beauty of self-publishing!


  5. Annie, thank you for that encouragement. I enjoyed so much the series on the life of C. But I especially liked your closing remarks to writers. Now I don’t write for publication in books like you do, but I do publish on the internet the writings the Lord gives me. And sometimes I feel a bit like Jeremiah who lamented to God how he was always being chastised for being so negative.

    And times have not changed all that much, for in America today, in much of the church, the message is becoming that we need to be positive and upbeat all the time and that negative (anything with can’t, don’t, and the like) should be off the table. We see this in memes on social media, too, and we hear it in things that people say.

    But no matter where I am reading in the Scriptures, the same gospel message keeps coming forth which teaches us that faith in Christ involves dying with Christ to sin and walking in obedience to the Lord in holiness and righteousness. And we have warning after warning about what will happen to us if we don’t obey the Lord but we continue in deliberate and habitual sin. I mean, this is all throughout the teachings of Jesus and that of the apostles. And it is a much needed message today, for so many people are buying into the lies which tell them that they don’t have to obey the Lord, and that they don’t have to repent of their sins, and that no works are required of them at all.


  6. Sue, the irony is, BARRIERS is for the most part (I think) an upbeat book. We can get angry with God for not giving us what we want, but once we repent and submit to Him, we can stop struggling and fretting, and we start to get “divine perspective” and realize God had a BETTER idea all along. And the joy of the Lord is our strength. It’s a shame Satan has succeeded in persuading huge numbers of people that life with Jesus is somber and joyless, when the opposite is true.


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