My phone didn’t ring yesterday. Not in the way I was hoping at least.

Friday marked the day Finalist’s were announced for the Genesis contest and I didn’t make the cut. When I saw the list of Finalists around 8pm last night, it was bittersweet. On the one hand, I am blown away at how far the Lord has brought me in my writing. To be a semi-finalist is far beyond anything I could imagine. But, even though I never expected to be a finalist, there’s always that part of you deep inside that hopes beyond hope it will happen. There was a small part of me that said, “Man, that would have been cool.”

All in all though, I responded well and as I lie in bed last night I thanked the Lord for allowing me to be a part of the contest. My thanks stemmed from a bit more than that though. See, Friday morning, in my devotions, something special happened. I read the latter portion of Numbers 33:4. ” … upon their gods also the Lord executed judgment.” What is so special about that verse? It’s the verse that inspired the story of Soul Yearning. How ironic that  on the day I would NOT succeed in being a finalist that the Lord would remind me of the day He inspired me to write this story? I can honestly say that this verse kept me throughout a long day of waiting and a disappointing ending. In fact, it gave me more resolve than any validation a contest could.

So, guess what I did after I found out I wasn’t a finalist? I wrote. The Genesis contest was such a blessing to me because I learned so much in the 8 months of preparation for it. I know from those who’ve read my work and seen me develop that I’ve taken my writing to a higher level. And now that I’m out of the contest, it has inspired me to take it to the next level.

The Book of Judges reveals that some of the tribes of Israel encountered setbacks in their conquest of the land. Some of the Canaanites God called them to defeat proved to be pesky and determined to hold their land. While some tribes trusted the Lord and pressed on, others gave up and compromised the call of God. God often uses what I see as a setback or defeat as a way to teach me to endure and go after His goals for me even harder. Romans 5:3 says, “ … and we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation produces endurance.” Colossians 3:23 says, “And whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”

When I read Numbers 33:4 Friday morning, I didn’t know whether I was a finalist or not. But I committed my writing to the Lord in a deeper way than I ever had before. I’m thankful for His support and encouragement through this journey 🙂

I want to thank everyone who has encouraged me and prayed for me during this contest. Your excitement for something you’ve never read has touched me deeply. 

I want to thank ACFW who hosted the Genesis contest and the judges who donated their time. Thank you for reading my submission and giving me such helpful and encouraging feedback. I look forward to meeting some of you in person at the conference in September.

I want to give a special thank you to all of my critique partners. Your time, encouragement, feedback, suggestions, and loving criticism has made me a better writer. I am especially thankful for my friends in Word Weavers of Orlando. I wouldn’t have even been a semi-finalist without your feedback!

I want to give a special thank you to my father who paid for my membership to ACFW (in honor of his mother) when I couldn’t afford it. My grandmother was a writer and he used some of the money she left to him when she passed away last year so I could become a better writer. My Genesis submission doens’t happen without that.

I want to give a special thank you to my bride, Beverly. She’s the one who read my story to begin with and challenged me to seek the Lord about seriously persuing publishing. Her support, encouragment, and analysis of every sentence of my work is invaluable. I wouldn’t be doing this if not for you standing beside me honey.

Finally, I want to thank my Jesus. I’ve wanted to write since I was in middle school. Now I get to do it for Him and with His blessing.

Oh, if you’re wondering why Numbers 33:4 inspired me to write Soul Yearning, you’ll have to check back at my next update 🙂