It might have been a day or two before Easter Sunday that I stood outside the door of the local Christian bookshop with a carrier bag clutched in one hand and my heart clutched in the other. The carrier bag contained a dozen or so photocopied, folded over, stapled in the middle books of poems that I had written about Easter. The poems covered Passion Week and had been written over a number of years. The first couple of days of my Easter holidays had been spent choosing and editing the poems and planning the format. The end product was impressive.
I was heading down to visit the family and had plans to take a few copies with me to hand out to friends and family. I intended to be very selective about who would receive one. I know that poetry isn’t everyone’s thing and didn’t want to give anyone the opportunity to mock my efforts. So I chose not to sow the poetry books liberally and gave sparingly! My husband was less liberal with them handing them out to anyone he spoke to.
The dummy run, as it was, in Rugby, had gone down well that someone suggested that I might like to take a few copies to the local Christian bookshop and ask if they would like to sell them. The bookshop and I could split the proceeds between us. So I raided the savings to get some more books photocopied, folded over and stapled.
And then I stood outside the door of the shop with the carrier bag of books in my hand…and courage never really stirred. I didn’t open the door, but caught the next bus home, the carrier bag of books still intact.
Friday morning I walked past the bookshop – the one I stood outside of all those months ago. I was on my way to catch a bus out to Castle Stuart and the Scottish Open Golf Championship. I often think that Christian bookshops don’t do window displays well. This time, however, they had a sailing boat in the window. All connections to anything to do with the sea was in the window – books on Jonah and the Whale, Noah and the Ark and a handful of stones with bible verses written on them. What came to my mind was a poem that I had written - My Ship of Faith. The window display was the perfect setting for the jewel that was my poem.
I had a bus to catch and a golf championship to watch, but the thought of the window and the poem were not far from my mind. I told Joe about it later and the next morning, Saturday morning, dragged him to see the window. It was a good plan.
Again, I found myself outside the door of the shop with a carrier bag in my hand with one A3 photocopy and a dozen small ones just in case anyone asked for a copy. There was to be no haggling over splitting the proceeds – the poem was a gift.
There was a queue. Bad enough that I was in the shop, but to have to wait in a queue was adding moths to butterflies in my insides…but I didn’t run.
Finally it was just me and the woman behind the till.
I had pictured some kind of enthusiasm. She certainly didn’t smile or show any kind of encouragement. She didn’t read the poem. She explained that the shop manager was away on holiday and she didn’t have the authority to put the poem in the window. She agreed to keep the poems and tell the manager when he returned.
It was perhaps a little bit of an anti-climax, but I left the shop smiling anyway. I had seen the challenge through and not folded in the end. I had done my part and the rest was up to others to move forward on.
“No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame.” Psalm 25:3
I read these words this morning. We all have times when we turn from the challenge because we fear to fail. We wonder how we will deal with the embarrassment if the plan doesn’t succeed. If what we are doing is commissioned by God, and is for His Glory there is no shame – even if, at first glance, it looks like we have failed.