Ten years ago this weekend, I drove to our church’s youth conference with excited trepidation. In the back of the van were five hundred copies of the premiere issue of Stepping in the Light magazine.
Bound in each magazine copy was the compilation of four years of dreaming, much prayer, six weeks of intense labor (and sleepless, teary nights), and all the money I had been given for my high school graduation.
That night, we would be giving the magazine out—one per family—to the teen girls for whom I’d prepared it. I was thrilled with the way it had turned out…but I couldn’t help but wonder how it would be received.
This much I knew, we needed two hundred subscriptions just to pay for the printing and mailing of the next issue. I expected somewhere between two and three hundred, and I hoped for more.
I’ll spare you the hourly details of the weekend youth conference, but suffice it to say that when I returned home on Saturday night, I carried with me a grand total of…one subscription.
Just enough to have promised continued publication. But not enough to make it worth my while.
I placed the subscription card and check in the basement corner where I had set up an office, and I stole upstairs to the unfinished second story of our house. Finding a seat on building supplies, I looked out the window into the starlit sky.
How was I to go on?
Disappointed wasn’t the word. I knew I had followed God’s direction. I had delighted to pour myself into this first issue. But…
I can remember that moment as if it were yesterday. Weary from sleepless nights and deflated strain, I told the Lord I couldn’t go on.
With sweet clarity, He immediately replied with Exodus 33:14, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give the rest.”
It wasn’t the text I was expecting, but it was exactly the text I needed. In those words, I had the assurance of God’s presence and rest, and I desperately needed both.
Through the next six years, God did provide for Stepping in the Light magazine. Subscriptions ebbed and flowed, and letters and emails from thankful readers trickled in. (And I gratefully read every one of them!) The final issue of Stepping in the Light was the August/September ’08 issue. The Lord then directed me to go to West Coast Baptist College and through that transition opened the door for me to serve as a writer and editor for Striving Together Publications.
It has been said that hindsight is 20/20. But I’m not so sure.
If I had known ten years ago what I know now—that the magazine subscriptions would never come in with enough volume to pay for just the printing and mailing of each issue, that I would work various part-time jobs to supplement the magazine costs while continuing publication at the same time, that filling twenty-four pages each month with biblical, quality content would test limits I didn’t know I had—I don’t think I would have done it.
And yet, I’m glad I did it. I’m thankful I didn’t have “advance hindsight” ten years ago. I’m thankful I did drive those first five hundred copies of the magazine to youth conference. I’m thankful for every ray of hope that kept me going and every provision of the Lord that kept the magazine afloat.
Most of all, I’m thankful for how God worked in my heart through those years.
What if I had never known that I needed the presence and the rest of God? What if I had started with two hundred subscriptions and never needed to see God provide? What if I had escaped the strain that daily reminded me of my need for God’s grace?
What if ten years ago I had known? I would have missed so much.
I would have missed seeing the provision of God. I would have missed the sweet relationships with both writers and readers I gained through that publication. I would have missed the work that God did in my own heart through many desperate moments. I would have missed God’s work in me and through me.
God is so good to call us to serve Him. He gives us everything we need to do it, and then He blesses us for what He does through us!
Is hindsight better?
Faith is best.
For we walk by faith not by sight—and we gain more than we ever could have seen!