The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:1-3
I started learning public speaking in third grade when I was selected to narrative our school’s Christmas program. Wearing a blue skirt and white blouse with a red crepe paper bow tied around my neck, I read from a script covered with construction paper. One of the best parts of my job is speaking to civic organizations about our community’s history. Since I started writing books, I also get calls to speak about historical fiction, my books and the process of writing. As much as I love speaking, sometimes the introvert in me gets worn out, especially when the talk is tied to salesmanship and book promotion. I forget the joy of telling stories about God and women of the past when I haul home the same number of books that I drug to the speaking venue. Then, I question why I do what I do. What is the value of driving 45 minutes to speak to a sleepy group, full of a country club lunch, and overloaded with meeting responsibilities? Last week, I prepared for such an occasion and though I didn’t voice my complaints to anyone aloud, God proved that He knows my thoughts. A week before, I spoke to two groups and sold only a handful of books. What was wrong with me? Was it my presentation? Are my books boring? Is no one interested in history? Was I wasting my time? My worries led me to pack only half the number of books I usually take and shorten the amount of time I would spend with the group. Speaking before lunch, I planned to leave right after my talk. When I arrived at the restaurant, no one from the group was even there. Great, this will really be a waste of time, I thought. I set up my table anyway, prepared my electronic devices to take payments and waited. Finally, the women began to filter in. Immediately, I was surrounded by eager readers. Before I even spoke, I sold half the books I brought. After my talk, I couldn’t leave as soon as I planned because there was a line of people waiting to buy books. In fact, I sold more than I brought having to promise people I would mail them copies to keep them from being disappointed. That day, unlike the others, I didn’t have a box of books to carry home. What was different? I gave the same speech in the same way. The audience was like the other two groups who slipped past me after my presentation trying not to make eye contact. Yet, this group was eager to invest in my books, many before I even spoke! I puzzled over it for a few days but have decided it was God’s way of saying He knew I was discouraged but also assuring me that I am on the path He laid out for me. My discouragement came from judging my success on numbers when my success comes simply from obedience.