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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

This Is My Story - Nikki Arana

Today's story comes to us from Nikki Arana, author of five fiction books (including The Next Target) and a nonfiction (Through the Eyes of Christ), all available through Amazon, Christianbook, and Barnes and Nobel.

People are always surprised to learn that I have sold everything I ever sent out. From that first magazine article in 2003 for Writers Digest, to my sixth book, Deceived, that I’m writing now. Yes, God was blessing my socks off and assuring me that He had called me to write. At least that's what I thought . . . until 2008 when I began to write my fifth novel, The Shadow of Death.  

The economy had begun a downward spiral. CBA was looking to broaden their appeal by moving toward fiction written from a Christian worldview rather than the transformational fiction I was known for that deals with tough issues and is overtly Christian. The subject of this fifth novel was evangelizing Muslims. You can’t get much more evangelical and overtly Christian than that!

Though my previous books had won many national awards, suddenly their sales were not so stellar in the slowing economy, and my once rising star began to dim. My agent found she couldn't sell my manuscript. The topic, Muslims, engendered fear in some and disdain in others. In some cases, publishers offered a contract if I would write something else. But I knew the Lord had called me to write about the need for safe houses for Muslims in America who convert to Christianity. Many of you reading this know what I mean about feeling God has a call on your life. God has given you a story and a passion to write it. But nothing is coming together. At every turn a door closes. You now wonder if you have misunderstood Him.

It had been three years since I began writing The Shadow of Death. Offers had not come together, my income dwindled, I'd rewritten the book three times, I'd fought writers block, and yes, even despair. Always coming back to the one thing that could sustain me if only I was sure—was I truly called to write? Finally, through prayer and a willingness to be broken, the Lord led me to the truth.

I am not called to write. I am called to intimacy with Him. It is about letting your dreams die and being willing to live out His dreams for you. It is about spiritual growth that has nothing to do with the writing itself. It has to do with the journey. It has to do with sanctification, being set apart for His purposes, realizing that you are not meant to serve God, you are meant for God to serve man through you. 

I no longer wonder if He has called me to write. I know He hasn't. He hasn't called me to do anything in my own strength. He has called me to intimacy with Him. Everything else is just the fruit of that relationship. It was the dawning of this life-giving truth that finally assured me about my writing, about God, His purpose, and His timing.  

Seek Him and surrender the book He has put in your heart to Him. He will do the very thing that you think tests the limits of His power. That’s the lesson I learned and wanted to share here.
The Shadow of Death did sell after all! In His time, according to His plan. Which turned out not to be just a contract for one book, but a contract for two. Oh, and one other thing, the publisher renamed the Shadow of Death  . . .  The Next Target!
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