One of my favorite poems is Edgar Guest’s “It Couldn’t Be Done.” It tells of a man who was told that something couldn’t be done, but, chuckling, he went ahead and did it. While doing it, “If he worried, he hid it.” Doing it began with his taking off his coat and starting. In the final stanza, Guest says, “There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done” and who “prophesy failure.” But, he says, if you’ll just get started, you’ll do it.
Ironically, I’m a doubter, especially about myself and my own abilities, so I have to constantly remind myself of the attitude expressed in Guest’s poem. I was reminded of that principle this morning during my devotional reading, which included selections from the famed Charles Spurgeon.
“There are many Christian people,” he wrote, “who get a good idea into their heads, but they never carry it out, because they ask some friend what he thinks of it. . . . Who ever did think much of anybody else’s idea? And at once the person who conceived it gives it up, and the work is never accomplished.”
Then Spurgeon laid out the challenge: “See what niche it is that God would have you occupy. Stand in it, and don’t be got out of it by all the laughter that comes upon you. If you believe God has called you to a work, do it. If men will help you, thank them. If they will not, tell them to stand out of your road or be run over. Let nothing daunt you. He who will serve his God must expect sometimes to serve Him alone.”
“Be not moved from the work to which God has put you,” Spurgeon continued. “Be not weary in well-doing, for in due season ye shall reap if ye faint not.”
When I began to submit my first book to prospective publishers, some people doubted that my writing, at least book-length work, was publishable. At least not traditionally. They looked down on self-publishing as not being “real” publishing. So I felt the affront and determined that I would at least try. I had to prove to myself that my work could be published. But I secretly longed to be vindicated before my critics and the naysayers. So I prayed only that, if it was His will, God would allow it to be published. I left the matter of sales quantity in His hands. And it was published.
Since that time, I’ve continued to work on other projects and got several other book-length works ready for publication and began submitting them. And now comes the test. One particular manuscript languished and was rejected by two publishers who implied in their e-mails that “it couldn’t be done.” An agent whom I approached also declined to represent it because “it couldn’t be done.” I got busy with other things and forgot that I had submitted it to yet a third publisher. I heard from that publisher the other day. I am now considering a contract offer.
Now the ball is back in my court. “They said it couldn’t be done.” Do I sign? Do I decline? I have a meeting later today with an artist friend to discuss the possibility of his doing some illustrative work for the manuscript. I’m praying about my decision. And that of my artist friend. Whatever our decisions, I’m determined that this time I’ll ask big things of God in relation to this book.
And that brings me back to another thing that Spurgeon said: “Remember you are going to a king [when you pray]. Let your petitions be large.”
Find your niche, your God-given calling. Just do it. Stick to it. And as someone once quipped, “Attempt great things for God; expect great things of God.”