Monday, October 24, 2011

Guest post by author C.J. Darlington: How do you know you're called?


You may recall that this month I've invited a lot of different people to send in guest posts to celebrate the release of Night of the Living Dead Christian. I've tried to get a diverse set of people with interesting points of view on a wide variety of topics. Our guest today, C.J. Darlington, is one of those ubiquitous internet personalities who seems to be everywhere! C.J. and I have never really interacted, but I thought I'd drop her a note anyway, and I'm glad I did. She's as pleasant and enjoyable as you would expect from reading her writings. In addition to being an author (more on her books in the post below), she's also the co-founder of TitleTrakk.com, a Christian book, movie and music review site. I think you'll enjoy her insights into the concept of following our callings in life.

When I was a teen I remember worrying long and hard about what I was supposed to do with my life. I desperately wanted to be in God’s will, but I wasn’t sure how I would know. All of us can attest to the fact that you certainly don’t have to be a teen to wonder if you’re on the right path for your life!

Now that I’m an adult, I still have questions, but that’s when I need to remind myself of a few ways you can seek out the Lord’s will.

What did you love to do for fun as a kid? Often God will give us natural inclinations as children that coincide with our calling as adults. Have you always had a fascination with stories, books or writing? Chances are God’s put that in your heart. It’s not about skill. You can develop skills, but you can’t fabricate a calling.

If I had looked closely as a teen, I would’ve seen He was already leading and guiding me through my childhood dreams. I loved to read. One of my favorite activities was visiting the library, and I’d come home with bags full of books. I loved writing little stories about animals. My sister and I started a newspaper/magazine we peddled around the neighborhood for fifty cents.




When I was fifteen I started writing a story about two sisters. I had no idea that story would eventually become my first published novel, Thicker than Blood. Those first pages were horrible, but I kept at it because it was something I couldn’t not do. That’s another way to recognize a God-given dream. Does it burn within you? I asked Jerry B. Jenkins once how beginning writers could know they were called to write, and he said if you can’t not write you may be called to write.



It’s the same with whatever interests you. God often puts desires and dreams in our hearts at an early age to guide us into our calling. And why wouldn’t He? Doesn’t it make sense He’d plant ideas in our hearts as children? As Psalms 139 says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” It’s only as we get older that those dreams begin to fade due to the distractions and pressures of life. Take time and look back. Remember what you dreamed about as a kid. Maybe you’ll discover God’s been calling you for longer than you think.


But what if you didn’t follow the desires you had as a child. What if you really didn’t have any dreams at all? It’s never too late. And even if you were supposed to start something sooner, don’t despair. I like to think of life’s journey as walking down a road. The easiest way would be to stay on the straight path. But many of us veer off course. We might take a turn that wasn’t God’s direction for us. Note to self---don’t sweat it. God’s a God of love, forgiveness and grace. All we have to do is ask Him to get us back on track. And you know what? He will. No matter how many wrong turns you take, God can reprogram your life’s GPS and still get you to that final destination… the fulfillment of your dreams and His plans.



Here’s something I’m learning---nothing is ever wasted by God. Did you dream of being a writer but for whatever reason became a lawyer instead? Great! Maybe you can write a legal thriller. Your life experiences can help you create a character you might not have written otherwise. Did you become a nurse instead of writing the next Great American novel? Maybe you’ll share your knowledge and experience writing nonfiction articles about health. Or maybe you’ll write a historical novel, featuring a struggling doctor serving in the Vietnam War.



Even though I wrote stories when I was young and dreamed of someday publishing a book, writing wasn’t exactly paying the bills. So I followed another interest of mine---rare books. I became a book scout and sold used and rare books to local bookstores before eventually co-founding my own online bookstore with my sister, Tracy.



 I was able to incorporate a lot of what I learned about rare books and the book business into my novel Thicker than Blood as well as my second book Bound by Guilt. It might not have looked like I was on track for reaching my dreams during those grueling book scouting years, but God knew all along the experiences I’d need to write the novels I’m writing today. It was all part of God’s plan for my life after all.



Don’t give up on the discouraging days, because they will come. Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will succeed.” If you do, then you can’t fail. He’ll make sure you get where you need to be at just the right time.