The phone lit up — way too late at night — as a text came through that I never wanted to read. My breath caught in my throat as my fingers quickly moved across the screen, anxious to reply and find out more information.
I remember thinking “This is not what’s supposed to happen. It shouldn’t be this way.”
I remember praying “God, help. Please. Do something. Spirit, breathe. Do what only You can do.”
And then I’d begin the refrain again. “God, help. Please.”
Circumstances beyond my control felt out of control. I wanted to reach through the phone, make one hundred calls, hop on a plane, consult Google, and curl up in a ball and cry — all at the same time. But I just kept repeating the words and watching my phone, impatiently waiting for an update.
The hours passed slowly. I lit a candle, grabbed a pen, and opened my notebook to a blank page.
I filled the entire thing, every empty space, with three words. Over and over and over again, I wrote them out. I knew I believed them, but in that moment I couldn’t say them. And so I wrote them, slowly and painstakingly, quickly and angrily — it didn’t matter. I just kept writing them out, preaching to myself the truth I suddenly found myself desperately clinging to.
Even if not.
Even if not.
Even if not.
The candle flickered. My heartbeat slowed. The page filled.
Could God intervene? Yes. Was He capable of changing the situation? Absolutely. But… what if He didn’t? What if, for reasons unbeknownst to me, He chose not to?
I kept writing, watching the white page turn to black as three words filled every square inch of the page.
I wrote a book called Even If Not: Living, Loving, and Learning in the in Between. I spent months filling those pages, pointing to the goodness and kindness of God, the true Author of our stories — even in the messy middle, in the chapters that don’t quite make sense, the story lines we wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves.
But there I was, the one who had clung to those three words through a brain tumor diagnosis, broken relationships, and depression… sitting on the floor, tears dripping onto the page, preaching to myself.
I couldn’t speak the words, so I wrote them. I needed to see what I believed staring me in the face, not the unwelcome, pixelated message glowing from my phone screen.
As I sat there with a no-longer-blank-page in my hand, I remembered these words from Even If Not:
We can trust the unknown of the future to the God we know is authoring its pages.
And I realized I still believed it.
God would still be good even if He didn’t answer my prayer how I hoped. He wasn’t holding a pencil or reaching for an eraser… this chapter wasn’t a mistake. He was already at work long before my phone lit up.
That night, I held a pen in my hands — but I was the story, not the Author.
2 Corinthians 3:3 says this:
Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.
I love the way the Message translation puts it:
Does it sound like we’re patting ourselves on the back, insisting on our credentials, asserting our authority? Well, we’re not. Neither do we need letters of endorsement, either to you or from you. You yourselves are all the endorsement we need. Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it. (2 Corinthians 3:1-3)
Eventually, I closed the notebook, put the cap on the pen, and blew out the candle. I watched the wisps of smoke rise and I prayed that same refrain one more time. I went to bed and woke a few hours later with the same desperate plea, followed by the three words that continue to shape my life.
This is what He’s chiseling into me, this is the letter He’s writing with my life. It’s His story and I’m honored to offer my endorsement.
These words, along with a written-out prayer, were recently shared at More to Be. If you’d like to leave a comment or read the prayer, please click here and scroll down to the bottom of the post.
A powerful post, Kaitlyn. And a powerful, brave prayer. I love how The Message puts 2 Corinthians 3:3… I’ll be keeping that in my journal as a reminder that I am not in control. But He is. Thanks so much for sharing! :)
I love it, too! Living letters.
Love your three powerful words. Wow. And I’ve been on the receiving end of a similar text message. Love your story here.
I’m sorry to hear that, Bethany… I hope things are a bit calmer now?
I’m so glad that God is my author. I’ve come alongside family members as they’ve struggled with cancer, depression, mental illness, and depression. Only God can reveal the beauty in those situations—and he has faithful revealed the beauty.
Do you wonder why God is deepening Himself into your heart and life at so very a young age? I relate some, not all. But what you write, how you share and create is a beautiful display of Him and He is well- pleased. Praying God’s peace, joy and love on your soul this day from rainy and gray CA.
Thank you for your encouragement, Sue.
“but I was the story, and not the author” Oh wow. Love how you stated that… and the truth behind it. how many times do we want to be the Author and resist being the story written by a careful pen. Such a concept to hold onto when we try to make things come out the way we want and realize that we have no control, but are held by our loving God. thanks!!
I don’t know about you, Karen, but that’s a daily wrestling! I’m grateful He holds the pen, though.
Great post Kaitlyn!
Yes He is the Author of our lives & souls if we but allow the creative process, even in the midst of our greatest heart wrenching times. His strength is pure joy! Our stories will always be best sellers in Heavenly places.
You’re most welcome to drop by with your favorite beverage & tasty treat for a time of reflection together.