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  • Writer's pictureBurton W. Cole

I Quit!

People tell you to never give up on your dreams. But that’s exactly what I had to do.

I wanted to write. I penned bad poetry in third grade. In the fourth grade, I wrote my first novel, Vanish the Killer Whale—four chapters handwritten in pencil over six pages of notebook paper. I illustrated it too.

In eighth grade, I created a humor column, Cole’s Corny Corner, for the junior high school newspaper.

I grew up and became a newspaper reporter. My dream for more persisted. I wrote short stories. Publishers rejected every one. I wouldn’t give up. Writing was what God wanted me to do. I knew it.

I studied. I researched. I practiced. I wrote. I told God how I wanted to serve Him,and prayed for Him to honor my vision. I’d knock open every door and barge right in. I was going to make this happen.

For God, of course.

It took me two or three years to finish my first big book, something I called Bash and the Pirate Pig of the Pond. I gleefully sent it off to critique partners and waited for them to praise my brilliance.

It didn’t happen. “You know, writing isn’t for everybody,” one person said. “Maybe someday you’ll get better. But you’ll never be published.”

Ouch! That hurt. I was angry. Every time I got up the guts to follow my dream—for God,of course—I got slammed.

How could God do this to me!

One night, I stood outside the house and cried. “I quit. I quit. I quit!”

My dream was destroyed. Failed. “I can’t do it. I can’t. I can’t!”

That’s when I heard the Voice whisper in my heart: “But I can.”

It hit me. It had all been about MY dreams, MY plans, what I decided to do for God. Me, me, me.

I never asked God, “What is Your dream? What do You want me to do?”

Did you know God doesn’t need you to do His work for Him? He allows us, asks us to participate in His work.

I had worried that if I let go of control, God would make me do boring stuff that I hated. But that night, I decided that if God wanted boring, that’s what I’d do.

You know, when I gave up my dream, God gave it right back. He DID want me to write—but with a brighter and deeper purpose. It was the same book, yet transformed to a sharper focus. It became a salvation story with heart.

When God took charge, he gifted me with awesome mentors, who told an agent about the novel. The agent sold it to a publisher. Now there’s a real live book—retitled simply Bash and the Pirate Pig—with my name on it sitting on bookstore and library shelves. Plus two more books. Who knows how many more?

Not because of what I did. Because God was finally able to do what He wanted—because I quit.

(This post originally appeared on the Storyteller Squad on Dec. 17, 2018.)

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