by Carrie Stephens
Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor. He was willing to die
a shameful death on the cross because of the joy He knew would be His
afterwards; and now He sits in the place of honor by the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:2, NLT)
I am an author; rejection is part of any journey toward publishing a new book. My agent often pitches my books to several dozen publishing houses over several months. So, for many weeks, long before anyone says, “Yes” to one of my book projects, dozens of people say, “No.”
The reasons behind the rejection generally function like spiritual grenades launched into your soul, and it’s hard not to take them personally. Something about you, the author, almost always causes a publisher’s rejection because of a lack of talent or worthiness.
When I first lived through this process, I often wanted to email every naysaying publisher and reassure them that I agreed with their assessment of me and my work. My book was unnecessary, I was useless, and I, too, had often wished I could be anyone except myself. At the core of my being, I lamented my audacious attempt to contribute something of worth to the world by writing a book.
But then, God poked his head into my situation and reminded me that He had asked me to write that book, that He loved it, and that maybe no one else’s opinions mattered. Just like that, Jesus set a joy before me that made every rejection a reminder that this world is not the source of my worth. Every “No” reminded me that God had already said, “Yes.” Every rejection proved I had summoned the courage to obey God, send my work into the world, and endure whatever came next. Given God’s perspective of me and my books, the line between failure and success became hazy as the practice of showing up became a way to embody Jesus in my life.
Naturally, I began celebrating book rejections with cake. When a publisher declares my book unwanted and unnecessary, I bake a cake and write the word no on top of it in bright-colored letters. In our house, we call these cakes No Cakes. Occasionally, I shout a little at God about how ignorant the publisher is while I mix the batter, and I admit sometimes I cry a little while spreading the frosting. But amid my frustration, No Cakes remain a conscious choice to declare the truth of Proverbs 27:7, that every bitter thing is sweet when we stay hungry for God most of all.
I wonder: what practice could you begin that could enable you to keep the bitter things from overwhelming you? What conscious, repeatable choice could you begin to live out that pushed away the negativity and allowed the goodness of God to flourish?
Truth be told, my No Cake “practice” is just something straight out of that wise Proverb. And so let me, in that spirit, encourage you to allow daily Bible reading to be your own “No Cake.” When we take God’s word into us, we say no to discouragement, despair and anxiety. We remember that God loves us and has saved us and will save us once more, even through death. We say no to alienation and sin of every sort, and we allow Truth to carry the day.
My recipe for rejection and discouragement of every kind is this: open up God’s word, and just say (or eat) “No.”
And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and
every kind of discernment, so that you may approve the things that are
superior and may be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, filled with
the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and
praise of God. (Phil 1:9-11, CSB)
February 28, 2023